Some people are used to living in isolated areas.
They are not located on major roads, are sparsely populated or may be in mountainous areas that have historically had limited access.
But even that didn’t prepare people for the greatly increased isolation that resulted from last June’s flash flooding which swept away homes, businesses and schools.
Since then, community members have been putting the pieces of their lives back together.
It hasn’t been easy in these remote, rural areas.
Clay County’s H.E. White Elementary School in Bomont didn’t fare well in the flooding, and was more isolated than ever due to washed out area roads and bridges.
Flood waters were estimated to be 14 feet high outside the building where the school driveway was washed out, the sewer system was damaged, a high tunnel garden used by students to grow vegetables still lies in tatters and playground equipment was also ruined.
“It was a mess inside, because a few inches of water got into the back side. It got in our gym, the lobby and our pantry area. But outside is where the damage was the worst because the road to our school was even gone. There’s still one of the commercial grade sliding boards down the road about three-quarters of a mile, but it was originally in a tree during the flood,” said PTO President Melonie Dolin.
“Even now when I look at the pictures and what happened outside I have no clue why our school wasn’t lost.”
The school’s ongoing needs, coupled with problems created by the flood, made Dolin and other volunteers more determined than ever to continue the annual ramp dinner that’s been a local tradition for more than 50 years.
The dinner will be held May 7 at the school from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 501 Bomont Road, and the menu will include ramps, ham, potatoes (with and without ramps), green beans, corn, pinto or white beans, rolls, cornbread and dessert. Cost is $10 per adult and $5 per child younger than 13 years old.
It’s a major fund raiser that helps purchase teacher supplies, pay for student field trips and even clothe some youngsters.
“We had a high rate of poverty in our school to begin with. Now we still have people who don’t have heat or air conditioning after the flood. Thank God we didn’t have a bad winter. I also know people who are still living in their molded houses. So this adds a lot to the problems some families were already having,” she said.
That’s why the dinner will go on, whatever it takes.
She and other volunteers drive nearly three hours to dig ramps. They average about 110 milk crates full of ramps. Then they spend hours cleaning, chopping and blanching them. That doesn’t count the hours spent cooking and serving people, but Dolin isn’t complaining.
“It’s about getting our community back. And we want people to know this is a way they can help, just by coming out again to our ramp dinner.”
Camp Caesar in Webster County faced some special flooding problems since 361 campers had to be evacuated to a nearby church and an emergency spillway was activated at an onsite lake.
In the end close to nine inches of rain caused damaged the facility’s pool pump, the Oriole and White House cabins and a cement bridge, according to a recent newsletter.
Volunteers were important in storm cleanup work, and are part of the annual ramp dinner that will be held today, April 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“On the first day of cleaning our amazing team completed 20 bushels of ramps. Our goal for Wednesday is 17 more bushels. Join us if you are looking for some free entertainment, and are not afraid of a little green stinker,” the Camp Caesar Facebook page reads.
Geary Weir, Webster County Economic Development Authority executive director, said he is glad staffers and volunteers are moving ahead by still holding the annual ramp dinner.
“The flood was a major concern, first from the evacuation and later because there was some damage caused by a stream that runs through it. But the vast majority of it has been repaired, and as far as I know they are back in full operation. It’s a very important asset in the county,” he said.
Although some people are still struggling, Weir said county flood recovery efforts are moving ahead and have been helped by volunteers and donations.
Infrastructure projects are also being completed, including work at the Bakers Island Recreation Area in Webster Springs that was pretty much destroyed by the flood,
“There’s doubt people love ramps, and they love Webster County too. So it is great to have this community tradition continue.”