Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

LATE-JUNE FLASH FLOODS ; Church Houses Flood-Relief Volunteers

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

LATE-JUNE FLASH FLOODS ; Church Houses Flood-Relief Volunteers

Article excerpt

Devastation like what many West Virginians have faced in the past few weeks isn't new to Brian Hughey. In 2011, a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, where his family lives. It destroyed buildings and killed about 160 people. Hughey, 15, remembers his family sitting in a hallway in their home, praying while the storm raged.

"We came out with a couple scratches and stuff like that, Hughey said. But his home was destroyed.

This week, the teenager is one of many who are volunteering with flood relief efforts through Samaritan's Purse, the same organization that rebuilt his family's home after the 2011 storm.

"I felt like I need to repay back and bless people and love on people who have been affected by the flood, Hughey said. "I know how it feels to lose everything.

Dozens of workers have come to help with the North Carolina- based international relief organization. Local volunteers drive in to work during the day. Others, from all over the country, are staying at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, in Charleston. Between 50 and 100 workers stay at the church each night. They sleep on air mattresses, eat meals there and shower in a portable shower truck parked in the parking lot.

"It's been nice to see this facility being used, literally, 24/ 7, Pastor Jesse Waggoner said.

The volunteers have been helping residents of Elkview, Clendenin, Procious and Bomont strip flooded sheet rock, insulation and destroyed property before spraying for mold so that they can rebuild.

The organization brought a helicopter to the state to assist with water rescues and recovery in the days after the June 23 flooding. Waggoner said a representative of the organization came to the church and asked him to house volunteers the next Monday. Volunteers had arrived by the following Friday.

"I've counted, in the last few weeks, license plates from 22 different states on our parking lot, Waggoner said. "And I'm sure I've missed some.

The organization has another team working in Greenbrier County.

Volunteers include retirees, high school and college students using their summer breaks and families taking vacation time, Debra Cooper, an assistant program manager for Samaritan's Purse, said.

Many are first-time disaster relief volunteers who were moved to help after seeing the news, she said.

Waggoner said a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that, if homeowners were paying contractors to do what volunteers are doing for free, it would cost them between $10,000 and $20,000. …

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