Preparedness & Recovery

Flood Recovery Needs Volunteers, Organizations to Help Meet Needs

Long-term recovery efforts need a boost in West Virginia communities.

by Sarah Plummer, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. / January 5, 2017 0
In this June 25, 2016, file photo, West Virginia State Trooper C.S. Hartman, left, and Bridgeport W. Va., fireman, Ryan Moran, wade through flooded streets as they search homes. AP/Steve Helber

(TNS) - Now six months after the devastating June floods, Greater Fayette Long Term Recovery Committee said it's time to dig in and continue to meet the needs of those still struggling.

"A lot of people think, because time has passed and they aren't hearing as much about it, that everything is taken care of," said committee secretary Jennifer Campbell. Out of 398 people effected in Fayette, there is a large majority still in need of some sort. We still have people living in homes who have not decided if they will repair them or tear them down."

Committee Chairman Rick Lewis said they don't know of local survivors who are homeless or without heat, but areas of Nallen, Winona and Bellevue are still "very much effected."

Lewis said there are many ways individuals and organizations can get involved.

Volunteer case managers are still desperately needed.

Lewis said case managers are crucial to make contact with victims, itemize the assistance they have received and what is still needed.

Case managers also help inform citizens about what they are entitled to through FEMA, like SBA loans.

Lewis said only 16 out of 398 people who filed a FEMA claim applied for the loans, in part because residents may not have understood the full benefits of the loan.

In Nicholas County, nearly all residents who filed a claim could have had funds to check their HVAC systems, and HVACs had to be checked professionally before money could be awarded to replace them. Many residents didn't know they could get those funds to check and replace their heating and cooling systems, Lewis explained.

Around 1,800 HVAC systems have since been donated to the recovery group, but Lewis said the team's goal is to receive assistance through FEMA first and then have local church groups and organizations assist with remaining needs that can't be met through the federal channels.

Twenty-two full time case workers will be hired across the state, and Lewis said he hopes Fayette will receive one or two paid employees, but volunteer case workers will still be needed.

The next case worker training will be held in February, he said.

The Greater Fayette Long Term Recovery team invites area churches and organizations in the region to an upcoming meeting at 6 p.m. on Jan 10 at the recovery center, which is the old Mountaineer Market Junction building on U.S. 60 in Hico between Midland Trail High and the old Nuttal Middle school.

A representative from each organization is invited to touch base, find out what will be needed over the next six months or year of recovery and consider helping with some of the known outstanding needs.

The group also hopes representatives from area faith and service groups will serve on recovery subcommittees.

"We had a lot of help in June and July. We saw how our community worked, but winter is already a hard time for people with power bills and food. Stack that on top of flood recovery, and there is a greater burden and a greater need," Lewis said.

Long term recovery includes retaining walls or stabilizing rock slides to small household items.

It also includes helping recipients of FEMA grants manage their awards, guiding them to the most sustainable solutions for their families.

Those wishing to offer long term recovery assistance can contact the Greater Fayette Long Term Recovery team through their website, http://gfltrc.wixsite.com/website, or through facebook at www.facebook.com/GFLTRC/.

— Email: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer

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