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OH flood recovery boosted

Despite completing the repairs and rebuilds of more than 1,000 flood-damaged homes in the past year, there is still plenty of work to be done in southeast Ohio.

BY HEATHER MOYER | CAMBRIDGE, Ohio | February 13, 2006

Despite completing the repairs and rebuilds of more than 1,000 flood-damaged homes in the past year, there is still plenty of work to be done in southeast Ohio.

A new grant from Church World Service (CWS) might help take care of the remaining 59 homes slated for repairs. "Until Church World Service came through with this grant, many of the families were very discouraged," said Mary Woodward, director of Southeast Ohio Disaster Relief Network (SEODRN). "But that grant made many people cry from happiness. It's been such a struggle for some."

The homes Woodward and SEODRN are working on were damaged by severe flooding from more than a year ago. Heavy rain and swollen rivers affected homes across 21 counties in late 2004 and early 2005. Some of the damage is still lingering from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Woodward estimates that some 9,145 homes were affected by the floods from Ivan and heavy winter rains.

In addition to the 59 homes remaining on the "needs repairs" list, Woodward said she is still finding other families in need. "We're far enough along in the process that we're beginning to identify projects that won't get mitigation, as in help with elevating their homes or moving," she explained.

"Some homes just need to be elevated 24 inches, and they have to elevate at their own expense or move. These families can't afford that, and then who's going to buy your home if you have to move? So they can't sell, and they have no money for relocating themselves."

She hopes the CWS money will be able to help some of those families, as well as the remaining families whose repairs are not yet complete. "We have families in homes with minimal drywall. And then many have new flooring, but no floor covering."

SEODRN has helped more than 2,780 people since last year. And from those completions, she said some of the thank-you notes sent in from the families are enough to make her emotional.

"We've received some thank-you notes that would make you cry," said Woodward, noting that one note came from a woman whose home will be fully completed thanks to the CWS grant.

However, the good news also comes with the request for more help. One of the major needs is more volunteers. "Things have slowed down this winter, we're trying to schedule volunteers for the spring and summer now," Woodward said. She said many churches and agencies are sending volunteers down to the Gulf Coast - and rightfully so, she added - but there are needs close to home as well.

The Rev. Roy Nelson, SEODRN treasurer and a pastor, said he's also thankful for the CWS, but more financial donations are needed and welcomed. He echoed Woodward's sentiment about volunteers as well.

"We especially need skilled volunteers, but we welcome any church or social groups that wish to donate their time," said Nelson, who pastors three Seventh Day Adventist churches in eastern Ohio. "We have many things that still need to be done, so we're more than happy to use their services."

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