There Were Rescues, Too With AM-Storms Rdp Bjt
The Associated Press
Nov. 06, 1985
Undated (AP) _ There were many stories of death in grimy floodwaters that ravaged the mid-Atlantic states, but there were tales of rescue and of heroism, too.
Robert Parsons didn't stop to think when he saw a pickup truck, overturned and submerged, in a roiling creek near Charleston, W.Va. He dived into the water.
''All I could hear was the driver yelling, 'Get me out 3/8 Get me out 3/8''' Parsons recalled.
He tugged on the passenger door, but it wouldn't budge against the flood.
Finally, Parsons smashed the window with a rock and pulled 17-year-old Robert Seaboldt through.
Seaboldt said his truck had slipped off a narrow road and flipped.
When Parsons reached him, he said, ''Water almost filled the cab.''
Mike Lester, a telephone company employee from Roanoke, Va., had a one-foot margin of air left - the gap between rising waters and the ceiling of a basement where he was trapped.
After he struggled for 27 hours in the chilling water, scuba divers finally arrived to rescue him.
There was ''absolute panic'' among some residents of Weston, W.Va., when flooding that had already destroyed homes and carried cars away started pushing through a retaining wall on a partially completed dam. But others helped restore calm.
Firefighters, police and several residents raced through town telling people to move to higher ground, said Eileen Brannon, a local optometrist helping evacuees.
About 50 people at a downtown Red Cross shelter trudged uphill through the rain to the homes of fellow residents willing to take them in.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said a wood retaining form on the Stonewall Jackson Dam upstream from Weston gave way about 4 p.m. Tuesday. But engineers said the dam itself was not threatened.
''I've never in my life been as scared,'' said Veronica Robey, who was trapped with her 18-year-old daughter Anissa in their car as a bridge began washing out beneath them on Virginia 257 in Rockingham County.
The two women were rescued by firefighters who stretched a ladder over their car to pluck them to safety.
''Scared wasn't the word for it,'' said Anissa Robey.
The women's car was later swept away.
It took some scrambling and a length of rope, but a man and his 5-year-old son were plucked to safety by a helicopter after they had climbed a tree as the unbridled Cheat River swirled below.
Fred Sneider of Rowlesburg, W.Va., and his son were working in their barn along the Cheat on Monday night when they found themselves trapped by rising water, said radio broadcaster Phil Shenk, who watched the rescue.
''They went into the hay loft and telephoned for help. The last they were heard from, they had 14 inches of air left when the telephones went dead. Somebody saw them on the barn roof at 3 a.m. (Tuesday),'' Shenk said.
At daybreak, an Army helicopter from nearby Camp Dawson located the father and son perched in a tree near the submerged barn.
The helicopter hovered as a rope was dropped to the pair, Shenk said, and they held on while being pulled to safety.