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Flood Relief Is A Process For All

August 16, 2017
BY ED PARSONS & CHAD TURNER - For the Wetzel Chronicle , Wetzel Chronicle

Areas of Wetzel County are still picking up the pieces from a devastating July 28-29 flood that left detrimental damages to homes and businesses.

Beverly VanScyoc, a counselor at Hundred High School has taken on a role as director of flood relief. She remarked how volunteers and community efforts are working to get things back to normal. Although things are not progressing as swiftly as expected, a huge undertaking is still underway.

"We need every business in town to stay here," Scyoc said, mentioning that there were around 12 businesses that took a loss due to the flood damage.

Article Photos

Photo by Ed Parsons
From left to right are Chris Fluharty, Israel Scyoc, Beverly Scyoc, Donna Himelrick, and Brittany Cotrill

VanScyoc's husband, Israel VanScyoc, owns a local construction business. Though the business suffered major loss, Israel has been using the resources that he has remaining - including his own time and manual labor - to help bring relief to many fellow flood victims.

Israel has been using his own employees - at his own expense - to repair structural damage to bridges, foundations, and homes.

However, Israel is currently lacking a great deal of manpower.

At one point, Israel's business had employed 54 people. Right now, he is down to four employees.

"Most of our employees were laid off because of the downturn in the oil and gas industry right now. We expect that to change, and we hope to be able to put those people back to work."

"Trying to help people with their basic needs, and making sure they are safe, is what we are trying to do," Israel said.

Israel said his business lost nearly $300,000. Very little, if any, of the equipment he lost was insured.

Chris Fluharty, owner of the local lumber yard, said the yard was a total loss. Fluharty said water came into his buildings, causing major structural damage. Supplies, lumber, and several pieces of heavy equipment were moved.

Fluharty said he was not sure how he would recover, but he was trying to recoup what he could, and rebuild and replace. Insurance will only cover approximately half of the cost of the damage, which is estimated to be between $50,000 to $60,000 worth. For now, Fluharty is still waiting on the insurance adjusters; once a claim is filed, it could still take some time before it would be settled.

Fluharty said he will try to get his business back up and running as quickly as possible so that he could help others with their buildings need. For now, he is grateful for all the volunteers that are helping with the recovery, and for those who have donated their time, money, and energy to help others.

The owner of the town's beauty salon said her shop was a total loss. She has no insurance. However, she said she will try to rebuild. As of now, she is answering house calls.

The only grocery store in town, Belko Foods, is a total loss as well. The owners have been unsure as to whether they would be able to open back up. Every piece of equipment, and all inventory, was destroyed. Having no insurance for flood damage left Belko Foods without anything. However, as cleanup began - through relief efforts and volunteer help - Belko Foods might be back into operation within a month or two.

There could even be some new additions to the town staple, such as a sit-down area to enjoy pizza.

Israel VanScyoc said Hundred residents fear a loss in population due to displaced families who may need to move from the area.

His wife also expressed this fear. She worries that families will move, and the loss of children from an already small school, will be detrimental.

Route 250, heading toward Littleton, the hillside along the stream, and along the roadway, is littered with debris, including mobile home roofs, fencing furniture, and other displaced items.

Debris can be seen hanging on trees along the creek bank.

Although not as populated as Hundred, Littleton is a very small community, made up of mobile homes and several houses, with one main store. Several of the flood-affected residents have small children who attend Hundred schools.

Beverly said most of the homes in the Hundred/Littleton communities have no insurance, and many residents rented the properties that were lost. Many of these homes have lost furnaces, hot water heaters, and now have major electrical problems. Even the means to take a shower or bath has become difficult as most of the damaged homes lost water lines. Many experienced damages to bathrooms.

Ron Dennis, who lives near the covered bridge - off of Route 250 - spoke about his family's losses. Ron, his wife Donna, and their adult daughter - who was visiting - were at the Dennises' home when the flooding occurred.

Ron said he had never seen anything like what occurred the night of the flood.

"It was the worst flood I have ever seen. One week earlier we had a flash flood from heavy rain, and we got a little water in the basement. This time, we had to move to the second floor as water came rushing into our main floor. Our home sits about four feet off the ground, and the water had to be at least three feet high in our living area," Ron said.

Ron said he had looked out his home's upstairs window and saw someone with a flashlight. There was no electricity, and Ron couldn't exactly see what was happening. However, he realized his 82-year-old neighbor was trying to save a building that was being washed away.

"He was following it down the creek, trying to keep it away from tearing out our bridge," Ron said.

The following morning, two middle school-aged kids came to the Dennis residence to help with cleanup. For eight hours, the kids carried five-gallon buckets of mud out of the Dennises' basement.

The Dennis story is just one of many. Ron and his wife are having to completely rebuild the downstairs of their home. All of the duct-work for the furnace has been removed, and the Dennises are trying to clean what is left, to salvage what they can.

Volunteers have been at Ron and Donna's home, replacing all of the electricity in the basement and downstairs. Original hardwood floors have been removed, and much of the plaster walls have been taken out.

Through it all, "We've been blessed," Ron said. "Everyone is safe and accounted for."

Ron said he feels that, with all the help, things will get back to normal for he and his family. However, he remains concerned for the other victims of the small community.

Coming into Hundred, from New Martinsville, there was a trailer park at the intersection of Routes 7 and 250. This park is a near total loss, with scattered debris on every lot. Most of the trailers have been declared a total loss; although, one man was seen installing a new floor and replacing the insulation. The man said he had cleaned under the trailer and was going to get the home "back to normal."

In Hundred's downtown area, many of the residents live in small houses and apartments. Here, the water came quickly and caused major structural damage, as well as destroyed much of residents' belongings.

Residents recall seeing two teenage girls, the night of the flood, caught in floodwaters. The duo escaped to the fire hall, where they found themselves waist-deep in water that was said to be snake-infested. They were able to escape to higher ground, and luckliy, were not injured.

Several people complained of losing pets, but were thankful no lives were lost. Residents even commented that it was probably good that the flood occurred at night, because it kept many from going into the rushing waters to save belongings. The flood has been described as "very fast rushing water, that made a loud roar as it passed."

There are many folks, affected by the flood, that are lost about what to do. They do not know where to begin and how to pick up the pieces. Instead, they sit on their porches, or in their homes that have no flooring and walls, and wait, unsure of where to begin.

However, volunteers are limited. There are not enough people to complete the tasks, and there is also a huge need for materials. Several hardware stores have donated, or given discount prices, on building materials. Still, more is needed. Also, Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration has moved into the area and is making repairs. However, the business is giving estimates. Residents don't have insurance and cannot afford to pay to have the work completed professionally.

It was noted by relief workers that many, in the surrounding area, have come to their aid. They are grateful. They thank all that have helped, regardless of how much or how little they might have done.

However, there is still much work that needs to be done. There is a continual need for help, and workers are pleading for Federal, State, and Local funding - to help get residents back to a safe, normal way of life. Volunteers are trying to get national recognition, in order to expedite federal assistance.

Relief workers and volunteers have given high praise to the St. Mary's Department of Corrections. From here, individuals have worked in teams to help with cleaning and minor repairs. Residents say the inmates do not pose a threat to them, and have worked to remove damaged portions of homes.

The National Guard helped to clean up the area and has hauled away several truckloads of mud and debris to a makeshift landfill at the top of a hill on Route 7.

Help has also arrived from neighboring communities. Hundred's fire department was filled with water, and the fire trucks and rescue vehicle suffered severe water damage. Presently, Hundred's volunteer fire department has two fire trucks on loan from another county, while they purchased another truck for $1.

United States Senator Joe Manchin visited and toured the Hundred/Littleton areas last week. The senator pledged to do all, in his power, to help residents recover. According to VanScyoc, Manchin made several phone calls and was instrumental in quickly getting necessary repairs to a washed-out section of Route 250 near Littleton. Manchin also spoke, by phone, to his federal contacts, reqeusting FEMA trailers to be used as temporary housing.

Residents are apprehensive about FEMA help, but were grateful for Manchin's efforts. Residents said they are in need of immediate help and can't afford to wait long, as cold weather might arrive before recovery.

Those interested in giving support, or helping in anyway, is advanced to call the relief center in Hundred or 1-844-WVFLOOD, or 1-800-451-1954.

One volunteer noted, "This is a disaster of major proportions. When 100 percent of a community is affected, in one way or another, recovery becomes a top priority. Our greatest fear is that we will be forgotten. We are putting out the call for help. We are in need, and anything that anyone can do will be appreciated."



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