The Miracle Baby of the Buffalo Creek Flood

Over Christmas, the Albright family celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus, who was born to save the world.  Without Him, they would all be separated from God and their families forever because of their sins.  They were so grateful for His birth, His Gospel teachings, and His noble sacrifice.

They celebrated with little Kerry, whom Sylvia and Robert Albright adopted when he was born because his young mother was unable to care for him. The family considered it a new start since they just lost a grown son named Terry in the war in Vietnam. They had another son Steven who was preparing to leave for college soon to empty the nest at home. So, they hoped that baby Kerry would fill the void they would feel in their lives.

When Kerry was just nine months old, a river dam above the family home broke, flooding the town.  Young Steven was in the backyard when the water rushed in. He ran in for his mother, who grabbed Kerry. Together they waded through thick mud in their backyard, trying to reach a nearby hill where the neighbors had gathered on higher ground. As they neared the hill in floodwaters up to their chests, Sylvia could tell they wouldn’t make it. She tossed baby Kerry toward friends on the hill, but he fell short of their outstretched hands and landed in the water and was swept away just as Sylvia and Steven lost their footing and were also hurled downstream. Now it looked like all hopes were gone of saving the family.

Hours later, the town preacher and his son were looking for survivors in the thick mud about a half-mile downstream from the Albright home. Suddenly, they had heard a faint cry and ran toward it. It seemed to come from under the silt, so they dug into the sludge and pulled up a mud-caked baby. Using a handkerchief, they wiped out his mouth, and tiny Kerry gasped for air. Wrapping him in one of their coats, they brought him to a nearby rescue house. Robert’s sister-in-law, a nurse, lived there. After cleaning up the little lad and washing the mud out of his mouth, Robert’s sister-in-law recognized him as baby Kerry Albright.

Robert Albright, who just finished his coal mining shift, was stunned to see the devastation where his house had been. Neighbors gave him the sad news of his family. Stunned, he went to his sister-in-law’s home, where his sadness turned to relief when he saw his adopted son Kerry. Kerry had a deep gash on his upper thigh and was bruised and bloodied, but he was alive. Robert said, “He was coal-black all over, he looked just like a tar baby. He had a whole patch of skin tore out of his head, and his leg was cut to pieces. They had been working on him – trying to get all that mud out of his throat.”

It took Robert four hours in a borrowed 4-wheel-drive car to get through the rubble and bring Kerry to the nearest hospital. Doctors didn’t give Kerry much chance to survive his wounds, but they sewed up his leg and bandaged him up. As Robert held him close, the people began to call him the “miracle baby.” It truly was miraculous that he survived when so many able-bodied adults lost their lives.

Robert was distraught at losing almost his whole family. He asked, “Why in the world would God take my wife and my boy and leave this baby like this?  Why couldn’t He have taken me too?”  But he saw how much little Kerry needed him. He devoted the rest of his life to caring for his remaining son. Suffering from “Black Lung” disease because of his many years working in the coal mines, he qualified quickly for disability benefits. Robert retired to take care of Kerry. He learned how to bathe him and feed him and mend his clothes. He learned how to cook simple meals and take care of their home. And he learned how to rock Kerry to sleep. Robert said, “It was just like a whole lifetime was lost in the snap of a finger.  I tell you, if it wasn’t for that child, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

Grown-up now, Kerry recently said, “There’s really no logical explanation for why I survived.  But my father had been through the deaths of his wife and two sons. All he had left was this baby he adopted.  I think I gave him something to live for.” He credits his mother for saving his life and his father for giving him a good upbringing.

Today, Kerry Albright lives in New York City.  But people in Lorado, West Virginia always think of him as the Miracle Baby, when they remember the Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972. One survivor, Gertie Moore, says that Kerry gave the whole town encouragement for those still missing. She said, “He became a representative for all of us in the flood. He’s a very fortunate young man to still be with us. He was always a fine young man. You can’t think of the flood without thinking of the miracle baby.”

Tom Nugent, who wrote this story, believes that every child is precious. Kerry was just the blessing Robert needed to give him a reason to go on with his life after so many losses. God gave Robert, and the whole town hope through Kerry’s miracle. We should never doubt that our Heavenly Father is watching over us all and knows what is best. That’s why we should all be grateful that God sent His Son went through what He did to give us hope to be together forever as families with God.

Not only that, but you may be someone’s “miracle baby” because of all that you’ve been through. So, don’t count your life as worthless just because you lost so much. People are looking to you for inspiration. Always remember, in God’s eyes and the eyes of those around you, you are their precious “miracle baby.” – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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