Sen. Capito tours Clendenin flood recovery effort

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT
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CLENDENIN, W.Va. (WSAZ) - U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., toured Clendenin with Mayor Kay Summers on Tuesday to get an update on the town’s efforts to address lingering issues caused by the 2016 flood.

Clendenin was one of the four hardest-hit towns during the 2016 flood. There are still buildings destroyed in the flooding that need to be torn down, including abandoned homes and the old Clendenin Elementary School.

“You see we still have a ways to go,” Capito said. “This new boat ramp is going to make a big difference, some new businesses in town and I think we are continuing to work with the mayor and others to use federal dollars to take down dilapidated houses and things that are still the remnants of the 2016 flood.”

Sen. Capito’s and Mayor Summers’ tour included stops at senior housing apartments, kayak rentals, Airbnbs and the Elk River Trail. The town is hoping the river that caused this problem can be part of the solution by attracting tourists.

Yak House Rentals owner Bruce Persinger said all of his 30 kayaks are rented on a nice weekend. The new Take Me Home bed and brewery has seen more than 50 percent occupancy since it opened at the beginning of the year, according to owner Dave Knight. A new outdoor stage that’s being built along the river at the end of Main Street will allow for more festivals and concerts.

“That is 100% our goal, to provide a fun and safe area for people to come and enjoy on the Elk River,” Knight said. “We also have a lot of people from here that now live out of state, and this allows them a place to stay that’s a little closer to their family and friends.”

“I think this time next year, Clendenin is going to be a little Fayetteville,” Persinger said. “We’re going to really boom. We’re going to have the trail done, we’re going to have our state overlook at the end of Main Street done, we have a $187,000 grant that we’re going to be able to use to make Clendenin a trail town.”

Mayor Summers said there is still a lot of work to be done to get the town back to where it was before the flood. They are trying to invest in a flood wall to prevent future damage to buildings and improve broadband internet access.

“We do not have a grocery store,” Summers said. “The bank closes at 2 o’clock. Those are the things we need because I have been contacting businesses and people ask me about all of this, broadband and all, and they say we’ll talk with you later. Let us get back with you.”

Capito said additional FEMA and other federal money could assist the town, in addition to funds allocated from COVID-19 relief packages.

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