It had rained a lot, and West Virginia south of Charleston was flooded, so we holed up in Charleston motel for a few days. We arrived at night, so it was only in the morning, with cloudy skies and barren trees, that we saw the “hills of West Virginia” and the swollen Kanawha River, in what would be our first home after seminary, an experience that would come to shape the remainder of my ministry and political values.
We finally got to our home, a new little manse, off the main road, over the railroad tracks, up the holler, next to the white clapboard church, on a little rise at the foot of a mountain, the mining town of Ridgeview - everything there high and dry, and so we moved in, without furniture, as it would be a few days until the moving van arrived.
My first task, hurriedly arranged, an agent for FEMA, and my “office,” a dingy bar beneath a railroad trestle, beside Brush Creek, Nellis, West Virginia, to fill out reports for people claiming flood damage.
I remember: mud everywhere.
Cold, damp, grey, and the tired, tired, faces of those who had lost so much.