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Cleaning and Restoring Homes Damaged by Flooding

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email

ROANE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nearly a week after severe weather slammed much of the region, some people in Roane County have returned to their homes that were damaged by floods. In many cases, the damage is devastating -- and frustrating to those who want life to get back to normal.

Stephen Drake and his family live along Reynolds Street in Spencer, a street heavily damaged by the storms. Drake said the water was at least 3 feet deep. While it drained out of his house within the next day or two, he said many of his family's possessions were destroyed.

"The bathtub was overflowing with brown water, and sewer was coming up about this high out of the commode," Drake said, indicating a few feet off the ground.

Drake and his landlord have ripped out the carpets and vinyl flooring in the house after they were ruined by sewage and water. They also removed the sheetrock and drywall on the first floor. While Drake is happy his family and pets are all OK, he said he's frustrated and discouraged.

"We try the hardest, and we end up one step, couple steps forward and a bunch backwards because we lost everything," Drake said.

Drake said one of the most frustrating things for him is a lack of help from agencies. He said the Red Cross has not helped his family because they didn't have enough standing water in their house, although he acknowledged the organization is doing the best it can under the circumstances.

WSAZ.com spoke to the Red Cross about the Drakes' concerns. The organization said they cannot help in homes with fewer than 3 feet of water or homes with flooded basements, unless the basement is a living area. This is a national standard, according to the organization. In those cases, Red Cross representatives refer families to local or state agencies that can help with cleaning and restoring homes.

Drake said his family stayed one night at a motel and another night at the emergency shelter set up in the Armory in Spencer. The shelter is being run by the Red Cross and a number of other agencies. He said despite several feet of water in his home, he was not referred to other agencies for assistance.

The Red Cross told WSAZ.com that paperwork for the Drakes' house and others along Reynolds Street shows just a few inches of floodwater. However, after sending out representatives and seeing the damage Monday, the organization said it plans to take a closer look at those homes.

Meanwhile, state agencies like West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are continuing to help through the shelter and by sending crews out to help people.

"Asking what they still need -- if it's mucking out their home, getting mud out, furniture, things like that," Jenny Gannaway, chair of WV VOAD, said. "We have teams out on the ground that can help do things like that."

That includes removing wet drywall, insulation and carpeting to prevent mold, Gannaway said.

Through Monday, the West Virginia National Guard pitched in to pick up debris from the flood for free. Starting Tuesday, anyone with debris needs to contact waste management to arrange for disposal.

The Red Cross cautions that help from an agency does not mean replacing furniture or paying people for damage to their houses or belongings, the way an insurance policy would. Instead, it typically involves cleaning supplies or food.

People in the area who don't meet the qualifications to get help from the Red Cross are being referred to organizations like the Salvation Army, Community Resources, Adventis and the Roane County Better Living Center.


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