A heartfelt thank you for heroic work during 2016 flood
By AUX/SUPPORT Kelli Ashworth
August 7, 2017

The floods of June 2016 will not be soon forgotten. Our department worked tirelessly at the time of this disaster and the days and weeks following. On August 4th, 2017 a letter to the editor was published in the Charleston Gazette Mail regarding the night of June 23rd, 2016. Our members selflessly serve their community and we are honored and humbled to receive such a tribute. Below is that letter.


June 23 was the first anniversary of the “thousand-year flood.” Everything happened so quickly that many people of Clendenin, Clay County, White Sulphur Springs, Rainelle and many other communities were completely taken by surprise.

There are so many organizations and volunteers who bravely responded and saved many lives. They are all to be commended.

However, I would like to single out one organization. That evening, I was trying to get to my home on lower Elk River from my job at the Clendenin Public Library. I was trapped on U.S. 119. There was a huge tree down and, about 40 yards past that, another tree was on top of a car. I had tried getting out of Clendenin via Spencer Road, but there were trees down and the water was already pretty high on parts of the road. I decided that 119 was my best bet, but with the trees down everything had come to a halt.

The river was rising, the water pouring off the hillside was washing out the dirt around the utility poles and they were falling, and the water on the highway was getting deeper. I was watching a building two doors down shuddering from the power of the river and its foundation was being washed out from under it. I was really beginning to think that I might have to run for the hillside and spend the night. (Everyone please put a bugout bag in your car!)

Then I heard the most beautiful sound in the world! Chainsaws! A bit later, I saw the flashing lights as the trees were being cut away. And then, a beautiful sight. The Pinch Volunteer Fire Department came rumbling through, pulling their swiftboat, heading into the jaws of hell. Those people are my heroes. They have served the people of Elk River ever since I can remember, responding to fires, car wrecks, natural disasters — anything they are called to do. These people don’t get paid. They do it for love of their fellow man. I know that if they hadn’t responded in such a timely manner and used the skills that they acquire on their own time, a lot of more lives might have been lost.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those brave men and women who put it all on the line for others.

So to all the heroes at Pinch Volunteer Fire Department, I offer a heartfelt thank you. “You Rock!”

With grateful appreciation,

Cindy Lilly