WV VOAD has created a new resource manual for residents, community organizations and state agencies seeking assistance or looking to assist others after a disaster.
Produced by WV VOAD’s AmeriCorps VISTA, Erin Bower, who has been working with VOAD since June 2017, the 411-page guide is now available on our website, www.wvvoad.org.
“We hoped to create a hub, or a single place where communities could find information about where to seek help in the wake of a flood or other disaster,” WV VOAD Recovery Coordinator Bethany Bentley said. “We wanted something that was specific to West Virginia with agencies and businesses that have been cooperative and collaborative with WV VOAD.”
The resource manual includes information about WV VOAD member agencies and the services they provide, along with contact information on vendors that have had strong relationships with WV VOAD and its member organizations.
The information is broken down geographically, first listing those organizations and businesses that provide services statewide and then identifying resources in each county. Information can be found on everything from debris cleanup and home rebuilding and repair to spiritual care, financial planning and assistance, plumbing and electrical contractors and much more.
Bower, who spent more than six months compiling information, said many people had a hand in helping identify relevant resources.
“Case managers and our member agencies played a huge role in gathering and providing contact information,” she said.
The resource manual will continue to be updated, and WV VOAD is actively seeking recommendations for additional resources, particularly in the construction field. Information can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WV VOAD member agencies are making progress on two new homes that have been a long time coming for several flood survivors in Nicholas and Kanawha counties.
The West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church is leading the rebuild of a house in Richwood for a senior who lost everything when the Cherry River overran its banks during the June 2016 flood.
“He was a contractor, but he’s had a lot of health issues,” said Jack Lipphardt, who coordinates the conference’s response to the June 2016 flood. “He contracted pneumonia, had several surgeries on his leg and back and there are a number of health issues that prevent his ability to work and derive an income. He was just a natural fit for us to come in and offer some help.”
The senior has been assisted by a United Methodist disaster case manager, and he’s been living in a camper near his property while waiting for his new home to be built.
With about $25,000 in funding from the conference, $20,000 from the Disaster Relief Fund and volunteer labor provided by the United Methodist Church and World Renew, his new home is now complete except for flooring, some interior work and a new heating, cooling and ventilation system.
“World Renew really wanted to build this house, and their initial hope was to build it soup-to- nuts,” Lipphardt said. “They ran into some schedule issues with their volunteers, so we needed to contract to put the footers in.”
The footers were poured in February, “but then March happened,” Lipphardt said. “Snow, rain, ice, and even when the sun was out, it was cold. We weren’t able to mix mortar or lay block — March just killed us.”
The project faced repeated weather delays. But in the past couple of months, volunteer teams collaborated to get the work done. United Methodist volunteer crews began the framework, and then World Renew brought in volunteers from around the country to install windows, set up the electricity and plumbing and do the drywall.
“It’s been a neat partnership with so many groups working to get this done,” Lipphardt said.
The house, which was elevated about nine feet to prevent future flood damage, is expected to be ready for the client to move in by mid-summer.
In Clendenin, a new home is underway for a couple whose property was ravaged when the Elk River flooded in June 2016.
Jerry and Anna Rucker lived right next to Herbert Hoover High School on the property where Jerry grew up. They were getting ready for church — Anna is a part-time minister and attends several local churches — and barely had time to get out of their home as flood waters rose.
Just two weeks earlier they had finished remodeling their home, installing new flooring and moving in new furniture.
Four feet of water got into their house, eventually destroying it and two other buildings on their property. In the coming days, the swollen river would bring down nearby trees and wash away their riverbank and dock.
“This is a couple who, over the years, has done all kinds of things to help out other folks in their community,” said Tina Smith, the Ruckers’ Disaster Case Manager.
Last year, even while they were displaced and in the midst of their own recovery, they volunteered to collect supplies for hurricane survivors in Texas and Florida.
The couple has been staying in the vacant home of a neighbor who recently passed away.
Just this month, the footers for their new home have been poured and the rebuilding process has begun. The home is being constructed by volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), with funding provided by Community Lutheran Partners, Lutheran Disaster Response, MDS and the VOAD Disaster Relief Fund. The homeowners contributed $20,000 toward the rebuilding.
To avoid future flooding, the homesite has been moved to an elevated plot of land about 100 yards uphill from their previous house, and the foundation will be elevated about four feet as an added precaution.
The goal is to get the family moved into their new home by early fall.
“It’s great to see things moving along,” Smith said. “This is just a really special family.”
An Elkview couple is receiving major repairs to their home after it sustained damage in the June 2016 flood.
The seniors had three feet of water in their home. Interior walls, floor joists, the heating and cooling system and the decking were all destroyed. They put thousands of dollars of their own money into repairs, but the magnitude of the work took a toll. They purchased a small hunting cabin, weather-proofed it and have been staying there until they can return home.
The couple has been assisted by a WV VOAD case manager and additional funding for repairs has been provided by the Disaster Relief Fund, Catholic Charities West Virginia, the United Way and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Several WV VOAD member agencies and other organizations provided volunteer labor to help with repairs, including World Renew, Westwood Baptist Church, Timberlake Christian Church-Disciples of Christ from Lynchburg, Va. and ROAR. The interior walls, floor joists, HVAC system and ductwork all have been replaced and additional interior repairs are ongoing. The residents should be back home soon!
This Rainelle flood survivor has moved into his new home!
He and his mother escaped four feet of rushing water in their former home during the June 2016 flood and the residence was destroyed. He’s been assisted by the Disaster Case Management Program, and he donated part of his property to provide homesites for two other flood survivors.
Many thanks to Appalachia Service Project, Catholic Charities West Virginia, the West Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, the Disaster Relief Fund and the Greater Greenbrier Long-Term Recovery Committee for helping build and fund his new home.
Volunteers often travel long distances to help with recovery and rebuilding efforts here in West Virginia.
A volunteer crew made up of people from several states teamed up in April to make major repairs on the flood-damaged home of a senior citizen in Webster County. The woman’s home sustained damage in the June 2016 flood, and recovery efforts were delayed several times.
Through the coordination of WV VOAD and the Disaster Case Management Program, volunteers from Pennsylvania and New York spent about a week on site and finished the repairs. Special thanks to Catholic Charities West Virginia for funding the project!