|Robert and Kerry Albright, photo courtesy of Readers' Digest|
January 1, 2013
Kerry Albright, The Miracle Baby of the Buffalo Creek Flood, Gave Hope to his Father and Community
Today I read a story of another little baby boy who was just as precious to his family. Kerry was adopted by Sylvia and Robert Albright when he was born because his young mother couldn’t care for him herself. The family considered it a new start, since they had 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. They must have hoped that Kerry would fill the void they felt in their lives.
When Kerry was just a nine months old, a dam broke above the family home, flooding the town. Steven was in the backyard when the water rushed in. He ran in for his mother, who grabbed Kerry. Sylvia and Steven 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, with floodwaters now up to their chests, Sylvia could tell they wouldn’t make it. She flung baby Kerry toward friends on the hill. Kerry landed in the water and swept past the onlookers, just as Sylvia and Steven lost their footing.
Hours later, the town preacher and his son were looking for survivors in the muck about a half mile downstream from the Albright home. They had heard faint crying and dug into the muck, pulling up a naked baby. Using a hankerchief, they wiped out his mouth and Kerry gasped for air. Wrapping him in one of their coats, they brought him to a nearby surviving house. Robert’s sister-in-law, a nurse, lived there. After cleaning him up and washing the mud out of his mouth, Robert's sister-in-law recognized him as Kerry Albright.
Robert Albright had just finished his coal mining shift, was stunned to see the devastation that had been his home. Neighbors gave him the sad news of his family. Stunned, he went to his sister-in-laws home where his sadness turned to joy when he saw his 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 gob out of his throat.”
It took Robert 4 hours in a borrowed 4 wheel drive car to get through the rubble to get Kerry to the hospital. Doctors didn’t give Kerry much chance to survive his wounds, but they sewed up his leg and bandaged him up. And Robert held him close. People called 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?” 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’ from his many years working in the coal mines, he qualified easily 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 went with a snap of a finger. I tell you, if it wasn’t for that child, I wouldn’t be alive today.”
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’d 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 life.
Today, 40 year old Kerry Albright lives in New York City. But people in Lorado, West Virginia always think of him, the Miracle Baby, when they remember the Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972. One survivor, Gertie Moore, says that Kerry gave the whole town hope. 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.”
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 Heavenly Father is watching over us all and knows what is best. I'm grateful that God sent His son to give us the chance to be together forever as families with God.
Nugent, Tom. Death at Buffalo Creek. New York. 1973. p. 92-. Found on 1 Jan 2013 at http://buffalocreekrevisited.wordpress.com/book-excerpt/
Warnick, Melody. “I Was the Miracle Baby.” Readers Digest Jan 2013, pgs. 88-97.
WVOW Radio Homepage, “Readers Digest to Feature Miracle Baby.” http://wvowradio.com. n. page. Web. 31 Dec 2012.