Record rainfall, flooding cancel Greenbrier Classic
A deluge of rain last week that totaled over six inches in a short period ravaged Greenbrier, Nicholas and Monroe counties in southeastern West Virginia. Webster and Summers counties also received wide-spread damage and flooding.The record rainfall has done such extensive damage to roads, bridges, homes, businesses and other buildings in White Sulphur Springs and Rainelle that the Greenbrier Classic professional golf tournament has been cancelled.
The death toll as of June 27 was 24 with the uncounted missing numbering even more. Several days after the flooding had receded and authorities were able to move into devastated neighborhoods in Greenbrier County there were still over 17,000 people without electricity in the multi-county area that was hardest hit by what some called “A once in 500 years storm.”
The Old White Course at the Greenbrier Resort received massive flooding that left debris on fairways and greens and was mud-filled in many places. The 17th fairway was completely covered by fast-moving water at one time during the storm.
Greenbrier owner and gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice cancelled the tournament on June 24. Justice rode through badly damaged roads and partially destroyed bridges on a golf cart to get into White Sulphur Springs where some areas had virtually destroyed homes that were inundated by the high water.
Residents were reduced to pulling water-ruined belongings from their homes and filling their front yards with useless rubble and fully damaged kitchen appliances.
The Greenbrier Classic was to be played on the Old White Course for the seventh time, with playing dates running from July 7 through July 10.
Travel and transportation in the area were totally disrupted in spots and vehicles were backed up for miles on some roads that were passable. Some bridges will have to be completely rebuilt and roadways will also have to be redone.
Justice could only estimate in months the time it will take to bring the golf course back to a playable condition, but he was concentrating his efforts on helping bring some trace of normalcy back to the lives of those families and individuals whose lives were severely effected by the storm. Some county residents were given access to rooms at the Greenbrier Resort itself.
Three counties were immediately eligible for relief aid and loans from the federal government.
Justice believes the mid-summer PGA tournament can return to the Greenbrier Resort next year.
The recovery of White Sulphur Springs, Rainelle and other lower-lying areas will take months and months and the infrastructure rebuilding could last into next year.