Across Appalachia

Volunteers Still Needed for Flood Recovery in West Virginia

Date: October 7, 2016

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By Tristin Van Ord

Communities across West Virginia are still in dire need of assistance after fatal floods on June 23 killed at least 23 people and left 50,000 residents without power.

The state of West Virginia has helped affected communities with more than $300,000 in grants given to 45 local businesses.

Along with the state government, nonprofit and disaster relief organizations are making vital efforts in recovery. #WVFlood, a partnership of state agencies, stated that within the first few weeks following the flood, more than 5,000 people had signed up to volunteer. Yet volunteers are still in high demand for long-term repairs according to Pamela Roush, a resident of Clendenin, W.Va, a small town next to the Elk River that was severely impacted by the flood.

Roush is not part of an official organization, but she has helped mobilize vast numbers of volunteers from across the country. According to Roush, volunteer response was impressive in the weeks immediately following the flood, but has dwindled over time. “Things have been good, but after the fourth week [the volunteer initiative] started going down,” says Roush. Construction and skilled work are still needed, she says.

“The initial outpouring of support was unbelievable,” says Heather Foster, director of Volunteer West Virginia, an organization that helps recruit volunteers.

Foster noted that the organization mobilized over $1 million worth of volunteer hours in just the first couple of weeks after the flood and that the organization was proud of the work volunteers have accomplished. But she said that there was still work to be done, particularly preparing damaged houses for the upcoming winter. She also noted a particular need for volunteers with construction experience.

Specialized relief efforts are also addressing ongoing problems resulting from the floods. One such endeavor, Operation Photo Rescue, is working throughout the state to repair flood damaged photos.

Another effort being made in the aftermath of the flood is the cleanup of the 78-mile-long Greenbrier River Trail. According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the trail was damaged from rockslides due to the flooding. Currently, the trail is closed from Anthony to Caldwell.

A free health clinic will be provided by West Virginia Health Right and Remote Area Medical in late October in Elkview, W.Va. To volunteer or for more information on the clinic, visit ramusa.org.

For additional volunteer opportunities or to donate to relief efforts, visit wvflood.com or contact Pamala Roush at (304)-545-3753.

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