Another Blessing From Coal
Several communities in Mingo County have been devastated over the weekend by flash flooding and mudslides.
Not coincidentally, the places most affected (Gilbert, Varney, Pie) are surrounded by mountaintop removal sites. The picture of the valley fill I included in the post “Is Obama Duped by PR Scheme?” sits adjacent to Gilbert High School, which lost a baseball field and many classrooms to the flood.
Reverend Larry Brown said that a mudslide from the Massey operation behind his property destroyed his church.
A care taker of a cemetary who was looking for displaced tombstones remarked. “This has to be caused by strip mining. All this came from the top of the mountain.”
Click here to see images of the man-made tragedy.
It is easy to see how mountaintop removal exacerbates flooding and mudslides in an area already prone to such natural disasters.
Mountaintop removal eradicates the lush vegetation and deep soils that characterize Southwestern West Virginia and serve as a natural sponge. Without deep root systems to hold everything together, the rate of erosion accelerates exponentially and often causes mudslides near valley fills. This same erosion is responsible for sedimentation, or the increase in deposits of sediment in surface streams, which makes them shallow and more likely to flood.
For more information about the increase in flooding caused by mountaintop removal, read this.
This isn’t the first time flooding from mountaintop removal sites has devastated coalfield communities. In 2001 and 2003, floods so massive they usually only happen every 100 years killed 13 people and destroyed hundreds of homes. Many old-timers are already calling this latest flood the worst they’ve ever seen.
How many more people have to die before mountaintop removal is abolished forever?