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Repeat floods hit WV

Two days of heavy rain in the past week drenched parts of central West Virginia.

BY HEATHER MOYER | ANSTED, W.V. | July 30, 2004


"Residents are getting very frustrated."

—Theresa White


Two days of heavy rain in the past week drenched parts of central West Virginia - and the hardest hit region is still recovering from several floods over the past three years.

Fayette County took the brunt of the flooding, receiving over five inches of rain last Thursday and another three inches on Monday. According to Fayette County Hazards Mitigation Officer Theresa White, the rain fell on a very small area of the county that, until now, had been able to avoid some of the previous years' flooding.

"These small areas actually don't flood that often, but the rest of the county does," she said. "Runoff was a huge problem this time, this water had nowhere to go."

White said some 70 to 80 homes around the town of Ansted were damaged this time, with numerous residents also losing their private bridges and driveways that cross the numerous creeks in the very mountainous area.

Ansted itself also suffered significant damage to its infrastructure, with the floodwaters pouring into city buildings and taking out several roads in the area.

Many residents in the area don't have insurance to cover this disaster, said White. "Many are even without homeowner's insurance," she added. The poverty in the area makes flood recovery challenging, especially when the floods happen every year.

"(This area has) had six major floods since 2001," explained White. "We get them from the spring rains or from the melting snow. Residents are getting very frustrated."

It's very true that West Virginia is familiar with flooding. Just this year, spring storms dumped enough rain on the southern part of the state to warrant federal disaster declarations for 24 counties - including Fayette County.

According to White, the major needs for this recent flood are cleaning supplies such as bleach, gloves, shovels, and trash bags. She said she's requested mud-out help from the Baptists.

Another local Christian relief organization, Operation Compassion, sent a request for more flood buckets to Joann Hale of Church World Service (CWS). Hale said she and CWS are already working with Operation Compassion and the Appalachian Dream Center in Logan County to assist in the flood recovery from earlier this spring.

This interagency cooperation is something at which Hale said West Virginia disaster recovery efforts excel. "That's the good thing, the faith community works so well together there," she said.

That also means the recovery agencies are able to prepare for long-term needs. White said they expect food supplies to become an issue down the road, as many of the affected residents lost gardens they rely on for food year-round. She said residents have been advised to not eat anything from their gardens due to the contaminated floodwater.

"Many folks down here are also hunters," she added. "When the floods damaged their homes, many lost deep-freezers in their basements, and that means they lost stored meat. Food will be an issue."


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