The devastating floods in West Virginia on June 23 caused the deaths of 23, destroyed 1,200 homes and caused 44 of West Virginia’s 55 counties to declare a state of emergency. They have far-reaching effects being felt even up here in Chewelah.
Jonathan Cleghorn – who spent his teen years in Chewelah working at McDonald’s, taking piano lessons from Sara Cochran and running in area 5Ks – and his wife Melissa had their home hit hard by the flooding. They were out of town at the time of the disaster, but got a call from one of their neighbors that Elk River behind their home in Clendenin, West Virginia was rising.
The river by his house would break a record from the 1880s, reaching 33 and a half feet. The town of Clendenin was one of the hardest hit areas, and the Cleghorn house had its basement wiped out and water reached chest level on the first floor.
Jonathan is the son of Chewelah Baptist Church pastor Dan Cleghorn. After going to college in Wisconsin and grad school in South Carolina, Jonathan moved to Clendenin to take a job rebuilding and tuning pianos.
They moved into town in April of 2015.
While they have insurance on the house, there was no coverage on the contents of it and they will have to repair the foundation and structure. There was sewer flooding and all the food in the house has been spoiled. They lost all their furniture, musical instruments and appliances.
“Eighty percent of our clothes are gone,” Jonathan told a West Virginia newspaper.
The children’s rooms on the second floor were spared, however.
The church they attended in Simpsonville, S.C. as well as personal friends have reached out to get donations and assistance for the Cleghorns. Jonathan’s sister has set up a Go Fund Me page to help them recoup the costs and so far $8,270 of the $10,000 goal has been raised.
While the Cleghorns grapple with their own home, their community in general has been ravaged as 99 percent of the town’s businesses have been destroyed. The city government recently vowed that they are going to survive but it will be a battle as 40 percent of the town’s budget is gone since there won’t be any income from businesses and occupation taxes for at least another 12 months.
Still, aid and several volunteer groups are coming into West Virginia to help with the rebuilding process.
“Pray for all the victims of this flood,” Dan Cleghorn wrote in an email. “I have been in chaplaincy for twelve years now, helping people through all kinds of trials, and I have never seen anything of this magnitude.”
The Go Fund Me page is at https://www.gofundme.com/2b69jg4