Greenbrier Resort reopens, returning jobs to flood-weary West Virginians

The Greenbrier’s owner, Jim Justice, announces they will reopen on July 12, 2016.

The Greenbrier Resort, that stately National Historic Landmark tucked away in the West Virginia mountains but known to travelers from around the world, reopened Tuesday. It had been closed for more than two weeks after devastating floods hit the Mountain State when a series of thunderstorms dumped 10-12 inches of rain that swelled rivers and streams.

The opening is a monumental step forward in West Virginia’s recovery and the morale of flood-weary citizens:

Nearly 2,000 people work at the resort, making it one of the largest employers in southern West Virginia. “For this region and this state to get back on its feet, the people need to be working,” said [Greenbrier owner Jim] Justice. “A number of team members at The Greenbrier lost everything, and they can’t rebuild if they don’t have a place to work.”

Though the Greenbrier had closed its doors to the public when flood waters destroyed its iconic Old White golf course and damaged other areas of the property, it provided rooms and meals to more than 700 who had been left homeless until a shelter could be set up by the state. It also acted as a drop-off and pick-up point for donations as residents in neighboring states and businesses pitched in to help the thousands in need.

The National Weather Service called June 23 a once-in-a-thousand-years flood. Twenty-three people lost their lives, 51 of 55 counties were declared disaster areas, and 1,500 homes were destroyed while 2,000 others were damaged.

The fatality count includes a 14-year-old girl whose body has never been found, a harrowing experience shared by her father of fast-rising flood waters that washed her away leaving family members clinging to life for nine hours in the raging.

The resort’s reopening gives hope while clean-up continues. Help is still needed — some have lost everything. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are heading to White Sulphur Springs for training camp at the end of July — a fan favorite the past two years — and in September the Greenbrier Tennis Classic is on tap. All will help bring badly needed normalcy back to West Virginia.


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