Iconic hotel reopens to guests after flooding

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — An iconic, nearly 240-year-old hotel reopened in West Virginia on Tuesday, about two weeks after the state was ravaged by deadly floods.

The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs reopened about noon to a steady stream of paying guests, said front door valet dispatcher Margaret Bennett.

“We’re really glad to see people coming back,” she said. “It’s been rough on White Sulphur and the surrounding areas.”

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The flooding left 23 people dead in West Virginia, 15 of them in hard-hit Greenbrier County, where the resort is located. The hotel closed to outside guests on June 24 and temporarily accommodated more than 700 flooded-out residents. A shelter has since opened at a local high school.

Resort owner Jim Justice, who also is a Democratic candidate for governor, said last week that as part of the recovery, he wanted hotel employees back on the job. More than 2,000 people work at the Greenbrier during its peak summer season.

“It’s wonderful to be back to work,” Bennett said. “It’s been a long two weeks. I knew Mr. Justice would get us back as soon as he could.”

Dating to 1778, the 710-room hotel with its elegant white facade has long been one of the jewels of West Virginia’s tourism industry, hosting presidents and royalty.

“We always should carry a scar and we always should remember,” Justice said after the floods. “But now we’ve got to go on. … If you want to really help, come. Reach out a helping hand to those who … need the opportunity to be back here and be back here working.”