NEW INFO: More W.Va. Counties Can Get Storm Aid

By: Anna Baxter, Assoicated Press, Andrew Colegrove, Katelyn Sykes Email
By: Anna Baxter, Assoicated Press, Andrew Colegrove, Katelyn Sykes Email

UPDATE 4/20/12 @ 4:50 p.m.
BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) -- The federal government is expanding the areas that can collect disaster assistance to recover from March flooding.

Officials said Friday that the disaster declaration now covers Lincoln and Mingo counties.

Southern counties are rebuilding from severe storms, flooding, mudslides and landslides.

Heavy rain and tornadoes raked Lincoln, Marion and Wayne counties from Feb. 29 through March 5. Then on March 15 storms caused flooding, mudslides and landslides in Logan, Lincoln and Mingo counties.



UPDATE 4/17/12 @ 11:15 p.m.
LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nearly a month after severe weather damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Logan County, survivors of the flood are finally getting answers to some of their questions.

The last few weeks have been very difficult for Stephane Davis.

"It's just so heartbreaking to think that you have to sit and watch something like this happen and you can't do anything about it," Davis said.

Last month, flood waters destroyed her home and just about everything inside. But getting help to recover hasn’t been easy. Davis said she’s already been turned down for a SBA loan.

"Everywhere you go it's like, oh we're sorry. It's sad,” she said. “I just don't know where to turn or what to do, and nobody has any answers."

But Davis hoped to get some answers Tuesday night at a town hall meeting hosted by FEMA. Representatives from the organization, as well as Individual Assistance, Voluntary Agency Liaisons and Mitigation, were on hand to answer any questions flood survivors have.

"One of the things we try to make sure that anyone that was affected in the disaster, that they do apply and not disqualify themselves solely by thinking they may not have enough damage to actually qualify for assistance," said Cheria Brown with FEMA.

For Davis, any help is better than none.

"Some answers, or some understanding or some direction to go,” she said. “I have no idea what to do."

And with already 600 applications and $2 million approved in FEMA assistance in Logan County alone, Davis hopes she can be next.

Time to apply for FEMA assistance is running out.

If you live in Lincoln or Wayne counties, you have until May 15. Those in Logan County have until May 21.

You can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov. You can also call 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.



UPDATE 4/6/12 @ 9:50 p.m.
LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The National Guard will resume curbside pickup of flood-related debris, according to a news release from the Logan County Office of Emergency Services.

Residents affected by the March 15 flooding must move flooded items to the curb no later than Tuesday, April 10, to receive National Guard assistance.

Only flood-related debris will be picked up (no household garbage).

For more information, call the Logan County Office of Emergency Services at (304) 752-0917.



UPDATE 3/23/12 @ 11 p.m.
LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Communities are still picking up the pieces after the devastating weather on March 15.

Since the heavy rain, more than 700 tons of flood debris have already been taken to a dump with the help of the National Guard.

The Logan County Health Department provided tetanus shots for flood victims and volunteers who've been helping with the cleanup Friday evening at the Verdunville Church of God.

A crew from FEMA is setting up at the Verdunville Volunteer Fire Department and will begin assisting people there Saturday afternoon at 1.

FEMA workers will be at that fire department seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help victims.

Call 1-800-621-FEMA for help.



UPDATE 3/18/12 @ 5:30 p.m.
LOGAN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A severe weather alert, as the fear of flooding once again hitting southern West Virginia. That's where a flood watch, now in effect for Logan, Lincoln and Mingo Counties.

A tough pill to swallow just days after floods already created a big mess. But four days later, community members in Logan are coming together to help each other out in this time of need.

"When it hits your home, you know, you just really don't know what to do because you're just so used to helping everyone else that you don't know where to start picking up yourself," said Misty Williamson, flood victim.

Williamson lost just about everything in Thursday's flood.

"I had got the kids' mattresses and put them by the door just in case we had to jump on them and start floating," she said. "That was my only thing, you know that we could have possibly done to save ourselves."

But Sunday, she's getting some much needed help from the Verdunville Church of God. The church is acting like a go-to site for flood victims, handing out cleaning supplis, water, hay, lime and a thousand hot meals a day.

"A lot of people just don't have the money to just run out and buy bleach, or run out and buy water," said Williamson. "It's just, it's just it's amazing. It truly is amazing."

"I've never seen such, everybody is working," said Michael Hartwell, Bishop at Verdunville Church of God. "People are helping people. Flood victims are helping flood victims. It's an effort. It's a team."

Robert Sebolt is just one of the volunteers delivering food to his neighbors in need.

"This is pretty close knit work of people," he said. "Everybody knows everybody and they've been coming together. Everybody's been helping each other."

A close knit community coming together to offer a helping hand in this time of need.

The National Guard is also in Logan County, Sunday. They'll start hauling debris out of towns starting Monday.



UPDATE 3/16/12 @ 11:45 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has declared 3 West Virginia counties disaster areas.

The designation, announced Friday night, means residents of Lincoln, Marion and Wayne counties will be eligible for federal disaster aid, following storms and flooding that took place from Feb. 29 to March 5.

The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help homeowners and business owners recover.

Applications can be made beginning Saturday by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

UPDATE 3/16/12 @ 9:30 p.m.
LOGAN, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The Valley Market in Logan is no stranger to flooding. High water destroyed the store in 2010 and Thursday's flash flood did it all over again.

A lot of mud. A big mess.

"Just a lot of devastation. A lot of waste."

Valley Market has been in Mike Sidebottom's family for 40 years. This isn't the first time he's had water feet deep in his store.

"This is the 24th time this building has been flooded since we've owned it," said Sidebottom. "So in a period of 40 years, you're looking at a flood every one to two years."

You can see a mark left behind from Thursday's water, about three feet high on the wall. Sidebottom said he's losing just about all the merchandise in his store and expexts the damage to exceed $100,000.

"wWe're going to throw out enough stuff to feed Ethiopia for a day," he said. "It's sad in that respect."

As an extensive cleanup effort begins, Sidebottom says he can thank the community for helping him get back to business time and time again.

"They come to me and say, 'boy Mike, I sure am glad you opened back up. We don't know what we'd do without Valley Market,' so it makes you feel wanted, makes you feel good."

Cleaning up for customers who ride the wave no matter how big or small.

Sidebottom said he has insurance which will help with some of his costs. He said it'll take weeks before he can reopen.



UPDATE 3/16/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
VERDUNVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The sunshine Friday highlighted how parts of Logan County were devastated by flood water.

Recovery efforts got underway Friday, but people living there say it will take years before it will be the same.

"I'm here to pick up supplies to help me clean my place up. It's a mess," Gary Neece said.

A day after the flood, the water was still high but, Verdunville Church of God was untouched. It's now become a distribution center for people in need. Some of the help came from hundreds of miles away.

"This came from operation compassion out of Tennessee. It's full of pretzels and cookies and just little snack foods that are non-perishables. All you have to do is call them. They meet the needs. They want to help people. We’re just so thankful to be a part of it," Youth Pastor at Verdunville Church of God Tim Mullins said.

From the ground up, neighbors in Baisden Bottom are trying to clean out the mud.

“I've spent my whole life right here. This is the largest flood I've ever seen. It's devastating. It'll take us years to dig out from under this," Jim Baisden, who was impacted by the flood waters, said.

In his native county yet again, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin assessed the mess, seeing how long and how much it'll take for people here to begin again.

"That's our goal right now: to get the roads open, to make sure everyone has a good place to stay, hot foods to eat, and the supplies they need to get back to the home," Tomblin said.

Home is where the heart is and people in Logan County say they're staying put.

"This is the place that was and will be again! My wife wants to move, but I told her this was home," Baisden said.

Lincoln County, also impacted by the flood water, was still under a state of emergency from the tornado and heavy rain two weeks ago. Now, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has also declared that Logan and Mingo Counties are under a state of emergency.

Governor Tomblin also plans to ask President Obama to declare Logan County a federal emergency.

The West Virginia National Guard is heading to Lincoln and Logan Counties to help with the flash flood recovery efforts.

UPDATE 3/15/12 @ 11 p.m.
LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Students weren't in danger, but parents were anxious as water-covered roads kept them separated from their kids.

Michelle Adkins’ two children were trapped with everyone else at Duval Elementary and Middle School.

“I haven't been away from my babies trapped like this before," Adkins said.

Principal Kim Lovejoy-Clayton says the water stopped rising just short of entering the school.

While kids were stuck, there was no holding back a massive amount of debris from flowing downstream.

People in the Griffithsville area of Lincoln County had been using a spot by the old school to dump debris and garbage from the previous round of flooding on March 2, but Thursday's flash floods scattered the pile all over the county.

Some of that mess is undoubtedly Laura Hager’s old furniture and belongings.

Her friends had donated new stuff. Now, much of that is ruined as well, leaving her to go through the same problem much sooner that she’d have liked.

"I don't want to move,” Hager said. “I don't have the money or anything to move. I’m really confused and don't know what to do."

While big challenges are ahead for many, the day did end with some big smiles.

When Route 3 was finally shallow enough drive on, parents were joyful and relieved to finally get to their kids.

“I’m so happy they’re safe,” January Clay said after picking up her son.

The school cooks worked late and made dinner for the students who were stuck at school.

The students have Friday off because it was scheduled as a make-up day for a snow day, Lovejoy-Clayton said.



UPDATE 3/15/12 @ 3:30 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Logan and Lincoln Counties are two of the hardest hit areas in our region during this latest round of severe weather.

Multiple crews have been sent from Kanawha County to assist with swift water rescues.

Homes, businesses and schools have been flooded. Many areas are also experiencing large amounts of hail.

For residents in Lincoln County, an area still working to clean up after the last round of severe weather, it is especially heartbreaking.

"They just got everything cleaned up at my son's apartments -- now the water's back in again and it's just -- everything seems to be floating away," Elmer Stowers said. "We're just hoping and praying for the best."

"I was actually kind of scared because I've actually never been through this," Pamela Smearls said. "It's kind of terrible...all the people just fixed their houses that got flooded last week and now they're having to do it again."

Frantic parents -- and their kids --separated by flood waters. Lincoln County towns like Yawkey and Griffithsville were underwater Thursday.

"There is no way to get to the kids... I am so scared," Tiffany Adams a concerned parent said.

The unexpected volume of rain caused waters to rise fast around Duval Middle School. Where school officials decided to dismiss school but the students were stuck.

"There's really no way to get there unless you take a boat or maybe a four wheeler," Adams said. "I'm really upset because the school should have let the kids out... it really upsets me that they didn't -- especially with the flood we had last week."

The high waters separated the parents and the students by about a football length, causing concern for parents but leaving them with nothing to do.

"I know a lot of us parents have been stuck down at the IGA for the last three hours -- only been able to get there and then up here it's flooded even worse. If it comes another rain storm I couldn't leaving my son down at the school -- I had to get to him," concerned parent Andre Elkins said. "It's a big relief to know I've got him... I knew he was safe at the school but just to know if another storm would come through and he'd be stuck down there I'd be worried about him all night so it's just a big relief to have him."

The flood waters also had the Duval Middle students concerned.

"We was just hoping that we would get out early and we was just hoping it would stop so we could get out and it just kept on coming," Cody Elkins, a Duval Middle student said. "We was just hoping it wouldn't get inside the school and we could get home safely. I feel safer now."

The Duval Volunteer Fire Department also had at least a foot of muddy water inside the building.

This wasn’t the first time the building had been hit by high water. In 2003, a record 44 inches of water ran inside the building. Flood waters two weeks ago sent 19 inches of water inside the station. The fire department keeps record of the levels by making marks on a concrete wall.

Former Duval Volunteer Fire Chief, Steve Hudson, explained how the flooding Thursday compared to other times the station had been hit.

“It's been very devastating for people's homes, automobiles; some people have been trapped in their homes as well and trapped in automobiles. Firefighters are trapped down there. They can't get here,” Hudson said.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon all major roadways in Lincoln County reopened. A few lingering problems still plagued a few back roads.

WSAZ.com has crews across the region and will bring you the latest information.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 3/15/12
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- According to the Emergency Coordinator for Kanawha County, three swift water teams from the county were sent to Logan County on Thursday to help with significant flooding. Teams from St. Albans, Tornado and Chesapeake fire departments have been asked to report to the Logan County 911 Center. They were dispatched about noon Thursday.

Click the 'photos' tab to see a slide show of flooding photos from throughout the region.

Sigman says the state’s Emergency Operations Center requested help from the teams.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/15/12
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Strong storms are pushing through the region Thursday.

Several areas were under severe thunderstorm warnings, but most of them have expired. Logan and Mingo counties remain under a warning until 9:45 a.m.

Lightning is lighting up the sky in Charleston, but so far heavy rain.

In Putnam County, a hail storm along with heavy rains pushed through about 8:00 a.m. Residents tell WSAZ.com the hail was at least the size of a dime.

Putnam County 911 Dispatchers tell WSAZ.com nuisance flooding was reported along Route 34 as you come into Teays Valley near the Putnam County Library and Liberty Square.

At about the same time, large size hail fell in Lincoln County covering many lawns.

Hail has been reported in many places this morning, and continues to be the main severe-weather threat with these storms. There is also a growing issue of localized street flooding that can occur with these slow-moving storms. Unfortunately, there may be more of these same storms in our area this afternoon as well.

Reports of flooding are coming in from Lincoln County. High water has been reported in Duval, Yawkey and Griffithsville. Flooding has also been reported in Dingess, W.Va.

A spokesperson with Lincoln County Schools tells WSAZ.com high water has been reported all over the county and Lincoln County Schools will be dismissing three hours early today.

Water is covering State Route 3 near Duval Middle School.

Tina Black says the county believes right now the students are safer staying at school, but the bus drivers are on standby if they are needed.

Black says the county received an inch of rain in 30 minutes, posing the high water situation.

"We are still monitoring the situation and our first and foremost concern is the safety of our children," Black said.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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