Tragedy continues in VA/WV mountains

BY HENRY BRIER | VA/WV | July 31, 2001



"We are three weeks into a disaster like we've never seen in this area before. There are going to be some long-term health problems."

—John Dash


Raging floodwaters killed a 3-year-old boy in southern West Virginia and a

77-year-old man in western Virginia on Sunday, as the region was hit once

again with heavy rain.

Emergency declarations have been issued in six flood-ravaged Virginia and

West Virginia counties, where the drowning-related death toll now stands at

six, officials said.

"We are three weeks into a disaster like we've never seen in this area

before. There are going to be some long-term health problems," said John

Dash, a Pentecostal minister in Bishop, Tazewell County, Virginia. "People

are going back to their houses and building without the home being dry.

"People are living upstairs in homes while water is running through the

downstairs. They think it's going to be all right, But it's not."

Tazewell County was declared a federal disaster earlier this month, and

Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Smyth, and Russell counties have declared local

emergencies, according to Ron Brown, a spokesman for the Virginia

Department of Emergency Management.

The 77-year-old man died in Scott County Sunday after being swept away

while inside a manufactured home, according to the Virginia Department of

Emergency Management.

McDowell County in southern West Virginia, abutting Tazewell's northern

border, was the site of the state's sixth flood-related death, according to

Bland Franklin, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Disaster Field Office in Charleston.

He said the 3-year old boy was washed down a drainpipe in McDowell County,

which is one of 20 West Virginia Counties where disasters have been

declared.

"There was additional flooding and damage over the weekend, It caused

damage in an area that had already received damage," Franklin said, noting

officials delayed by more than a month the deadline by which to file for

federal dollar recompense. "The register deadline the state requested is

September 8, just to be sure. Originally it was August 2. We felt there's a

need."

He said many residents are flooded-out of their primary living arrangements

and are staying with relatives or awaiting delivery of mobile homes, some

of which might be temporary.

Many West Virginia residents are crossing the border into Virginia in order

to visit the Clinch Valley Community Action distribution center and obtain

survival goods, according to Chris Thompson, the center's executive

director.

People are seeking cleaning supplies, appliances, clothing, food and

toiletries among other items, she said.

"We're just getting numerous of families from McDowell County," Thompson said.

Back in Virginia, progression is slow, said Paul McDaniel, the unit

director for Virginia Baptists.

"We'll probably have to rebuild two or three weeks after the homes dry

out," McDaniel said. "Demolition is at a stand still, little to no

temporary housing, people hanging around near their homes

Dash said thousands of people have been left homeless. "We've seen homes

stacked on top of each other."


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