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The Sociologist's EyeReflections on Social Life$
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Kai Erikson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300106671

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300106671.001.0001

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Disaster at Buffalo Creek

Disaster at Buffalo Creek

Chapter:
(p.43) Disaster at Buffalo Creek
Source:
The Sociologist's Eye
Author(s):

Kai Erikson

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300106671.003.0005

This chapter focuses on the Buffalo Creek flood in West Virginia that occurred on February 26, 1972. Almost everyone along Buffalo Creek depended on coal mining for a living. The creek is formed by three narrow forks meeting at the top of the hollow. The middle of these forks, known as Middle Fork, had been for many years the site of an enormous bank of mine waste. The waste was there because it solved two important disposal problems for the Buffalo Mining Company. This chapter describes the events that led to the Buffalo Creek disaster and its aftermath. It also considers the individual and collective trauma caused by the flood. Finally, it presents the story of a survivor named “Wilbur.”

Keywords:   coal mining, Buffalo Creek flood, West Virginia, mine waste, Buffalo Mining Company, individual trauma, collective trauma

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