Remembering the Buffalo Creek Disaster 40 Years Later

By: Katelyn Sykes Email
By: Katelyn Sykes Email

LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Sunday, February 26 marks the 40th anniversary of the Buffalo Creek disaster here in West Virginia. 125 people were killed and more than 4,000 people were left homeless.

On February 26, 1972, a coal-waste dam in Logan County collapsed during heavy rain, unleashing millions of gallons of water. A wall of sludge, debris and water came crashing down into the valley below.

On Saturday, the Buffalo Creek Memorial Library hosted a program for the 40th anniversary. Dozens of community members came together to remember those lost in the flood, and to share their stories of survival.

"40th anniversary and it feels like it was just yesterday."

Gertie Moore says not a day goes by that the Buffalo Creek disaster isn't somewhere in her mind.

"It was just more devastation than anyone should have to go through," she said. "It was like a war zone."

Moore was a school bus driver at the time and said she knew about 80% of the people killed in the flood.

"We heard screaming. We heard everybody running. Watching them go to the hills. And after it was over, everybody would come up and say, 'well we found this one, or we found that one' and there was no emotion there because we were all in shock."

It's those same memories Timothy Hall says is hard to think about.

"It disrupted your life," said Hall. "I mean, I spent so much of my life wishing things used to be the way they were before I finally started getting over it and everything."

Hall was just 15 years old at the time.

"We headed out the door and headed for the highest house on the hill," he said. "And I got about 30 feet from my house and turned around and my neighbors house picked off the foundation, hit ours and our house just broke."

For these survivors, coming together to remeber that devastating day is helping them heal.

"Life changed forever more because we went to bed with one life and woke up with another," said Moore.

But they all have each other to lean on to get through it.

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