The Buffalo Creek Memorial Library will host the annual memorial service of the Buffalo Creek flood disaster at 11 a.m., Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Survivors, friends and family will gather to tell stories of survival and hope as well as honor those who perished.
One of the nation’s worst flood disasters took place in Logan County on February 26, 1972, when the Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam number three failed following heavy rains, sending an estimated 132,000,000 gallons of black waste water, reportedly cresting at over 30 feet high, through 16 mining communities lining Buffalo Creek.
Approximately 5,000 people lived in those communities. The flood claimed 125 lives, injured another 1,121 and left about 4,000 homeless. There were 507 houses destroyed, forty-four mobile homes and 30 businesses.
Dam number three was constructed of coarse mining refuse dumped into the Middle Fork of Buffalo Creek starting in 1968, and had been built on top of coal slurry sediment that had collected behind dams number one and two. The dam was approximately 260 feet above the town of Saunders when it failed.
Recently, the Buffalo Creek Memorial Library received materials from a former resident of Buffalo Creek, Alice “Linda” Davis Beardsley sent a bible, lapel pin and an essay with photos about her life on Buffalo Creek during the 1950s. The bible and pin were in recognition of a year of perfect attendance at the Freewill Baptist Church at Three Forks at Saunders, a church that was destroyed by the flood.
Ms. Beardsley had seen a Facebook page created by Eddie Tackett II, an employee at the library. Tackett created the page as part of his capstone project for his degree in Library Technology at Northern Kentucky University. Tackett is asking for anyone having memorabilia, photos, articles or other items relating to the disaster to share them on the Facebook page. He is hoping to be able to collect photos of those who lost their lives in the flood to create a photo memorial, which will put a face with the names of those honored at memorial services every year.
Librarian Elizabeth Tackett says the memorial service at the library this year will be very informal and disaster survivor Gertie Moore will be providing refreshments.
“I want anyone who would like to share memories or stories to come and join us on Wednesday. Regardless of how many of us gather, it will be a great time of sharing memories, photos, articles or anything else they would like to bring and share.”
Visit the Facebook page, Memories of the Buffalo Creek Flood Disaster, to share photos, stories and memories or see those already included on the page.