Second in a series of stories for InsideClimate News. An evangelical mountain town in West Virginia lost eight people to flooding from an extreme rain storm last year. Many residents see the Biblical prophecy of the apocalypse, and welcome it, while some are considering climate change in a new light.
Jake Dowdy is a police officer in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where he lived a block from Howard Creek, a stream so inconsequential you could usually hop-skip across parts of it without wetting your toes.
It was the morning of June 23, 2016, and a heavy rain was falling as Jake went to the gym for a workout. He wasn’t thinking much about the rain, other than that it’d be good for the garden. When he got home around noon, he had lunch and kicked up his feet in the living room, chilling out for a while before his 4 pm shift. He drifted off to sleep on the couch and awoke when his wife texted, confusing him for a moment; she was concerned about reports of flooding.
His disorientation turned to panic when he set his feet on the carpet and felt it squish soggily beneath his soles. He had just enough time to grab the cat and wade through thigh-high rushing water to his truck.