Manchin Tours, Visits Flood-Affected County
“What can I do for you?”
Those were the first words United States Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) asked those gathered at Hundred High School Monday, Aug. 7.
The senator toured the flood-ravaged Northern Panhandle of West Virginia Monday morning, meeting with state, and local emergency officials. Manchin’s Wetzel County stops included the towns of Hundred and Littleton.
Lead volunteers and officials stressed to Manchin that Hundred needed to keep its people in the town. Businesses and homes were damaged by floodwaters. Many of the houses were rentals; thus, the renters no longer have a place to live.
It was noted that an estimated 80 percent of Hundred’s residents, affected by the flooding, did not have flood insurance.
Due to businesses being damaged, some residents no longer have a place to work.
Also, concerns were expressed about the area’s roads and bridges that the flood waters had damaged.
Manchin used a telephone at HHS and called FEMA then, requesting trailers for displaced residents. It was noted it could take up to 30 days for FEMA to fulfill the request; however, Manchin requested that the matter be expedited. There are, however, concerns as to where the trailers would be placed.
Manchin also called leaders at the state’s Department of Transportation. Manchin said the department would quickly send everything, that is needed, to fix the roads and bridges, as soon as it can compile a list of what is needed.
Residents expressed frustration with red tape, not allowing them to clean the creeks and streams, that have areas blocked due to trees. Manchin gave the folks a handwritten note, giving them permission – from himself – to continue with the stream and creek cleaning.
Several other issues were discussed. Delegate Dave Pethtel (D-Wetzel) approached the issue of cell phone service in the county. Manchin noted that Congress was researching the matter but said it could take a year to two years to perhaps obtain cell phone service. Pethtel said he had held discussions on the issue, and it seems that cell phone service providers do not want to pursue the matter because there are not enough consumers in the rural areas.
Residents also discussed the current Windy Ridge dump site, where flood-damaged items are being placed. It was noted that trucks are needed to pickup the items, to deliver them to the county landfill on Cider Run.
Furthermore, residents requested dumpsters, as well as noted that new power poles will need installed in the town. Many of the poles had 10 feet of water, surrounding them.
Furthermore, the town’s streets now need cleaned. It was suggested that New Martinsville perhaps would donate the services.
The helpful and hardworking spirit of Wetzel County has been evident in the past week, since the devastating flood of July 28-29.
On Friday, Aug. 4, Hannah Evans presented a check to Karen Longwell of the Hundred-Littleton Alumni Association. This check had come from funds Evans and others had raised using Go Fund Me. Evans had noted that she and her husband both teach in Hundred and had always been treated kindly and welcomed. Evans wanted the chance to give back.
A total of $6,655 was raised on this account.
The Hundred-Littleton Alumni Association is also raising money for flood relief. The association has a bank account set up at Union Bank, for folks interested in donating. The association also has a Go Fund Me, for those who wish to donate electronically: www.gofundme.com/476ywrc
Help has also come from outside of the county’s borders.
Winfield District Volunteer Fire Department donated a fire engine to the Hundred Volunteer Fire Department, which lost three of its trucks due to the flood. A fourth truck was found to be repairable. In the meantime, Hundred VFD only had one of its vehicles to respond to emergencies.
Bill Jenkins, of Washington, Pa., has also given to the flood relief cause. The gentleman has traveled to Littleton almost every day, since the flood, with his food trailer. Jenkins donates food to those in need of a meal. Jenkins will keep returning to Littleton as long as he gets enough funds, for supplies, from donations.
Other forms of help have come from God’s Pit Crew, and Rice Energy.
God’s Pit Crew, a Crisis Response Team from Virginia, traveled to Hundred last week to deliver supplies for flood relief. Rice Energy showed up in town with a popsicle stand for kids, and adults, needing a break from clean-up.
West Virginia Student Government Association members, MANRRS Club, and Honor College students also visited Hundred on Monday to clean private homes and provide assistance.
The flood recovery also continues in the Pine Grove area. On Friday, officials reported that the National Guard would be coming to the town to aid in the flood relief efforts.
Resident Kimberly Shatney has offered to collect donations for flood victims at her garage, located 1/4 a mile north of the Byrd Center on North Fork Road. Shatney can be reached at 304-889-2235, or on her cell at 586-531-7773.
Shatney said she and fellow volunteers would work with local churches and organizations to make sure donations go to the most needy.
Shatney said the group would not accept money but would accept gently used clothing, baby formula and new bottles, baby clothing, diapers, pillows, blankets, towels, washcloths, personal hygiene products, shampoo, soap, new toothbrushes and toothpaste, socks, bed sheets, q-tips, unused deodorant, new combs and brushes, facial products, flip-flops, dishes, pots and pans, dishtowels, kitchen utensils, and anything else that might be needed.
Julie Broadwater Burkhardt is an Idaho resident, but she hails from Pine Grove and has relatives there. Burkhardt created a Go Fund Me for Wetzel County’s flood victims. It can be accessed at www.gofundme.com/help-wv-flood-victims
A highlight for Pine Grove residents was news from Pine Grove Mayor Barbara King on Tuesday, Aug. 1. King announced that five members of Hurricane, W.Va. Mobile Infrastructure Response Team will be working on Pine Grove’s sewer system. King said the National Guard recommended that she contact Hurricane for assistance. King said the mayor of Hurricane refers to the crew as a “Dream Team.”
Additionally, King announced that Mark West has personnel assisting Pine Grove workers with “building controllers for our sewer pits and working at our water plant.” Mark West purchased 150 rebuild kit for pit controllers for the endeavor.
This isn’t the first time Mark West has reached out to the Town of Pine Grove. Prior to the flood, the energy company’s electricians and contractors completely re-wired the town’s vac plant.
Since the flood, Mark West has brought three tractor trailers of bottled water to the town. The company has brought dumpsters for flood debris, cleaning supplies, free lunches, and more.
The company has sent water and supplies to Wallace, Folsom, Smithfield, Jacksonburg, Pine Grove, Reader, Hundred, and Littleton.
On Monday, July 31, Mark West personnel set a hot dog stand up in Pine Grove, offering lunch to those taking a break from flood clean-up.
Dominion Energy Transmission Inc. has also helped its communities by purchasing and delivering supplies to those in need.
The town had suffered trial after trial for more than a month after a pump quit working on the its sewer system. Dominion Energy Transmission Inc. purchased a new pump for the town; however, shortly thereafter, a device quit functioning in the town’s water system.
On Friday, Aug. 4, King announced that town employees are getting several sewer pits completed and working on the water leaks. King thanked residents for their patience and prayers.
Other ways to assist with flood clean-up are through The Gabriel Project and the chamber of commerce.
The Gabriel Project’s Wetzel County site has been collecting donations at the Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union’s New Martinsville and Proctor locations. Requested items are diapers, hygiene items, wipes, baby food, formula, and cereal.
Those who would like to give a monetary donation for Flood Assistance in the Hundred and Pine Grove Areas, the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce is accepting monetary donations that will be passed directly through to the Hundred & Pine Grove Flood areas. The Chamber is a 501 C 3 organization.
If you wish to donate send checks to: Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce, P O Box 271, New Martinsville, WV 26155.
Make payable to: Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce. Please place on memo line: Flood Assistance.
If you have a preference of either location receiving all of your donation please designate either: Hundred or Pine Grove.
For questions call 304-455-3825 or 304-815-5132.
Also, in Hundred, volunteers are needed to muck and sanitize homes as well as perform carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other speciality work. The VRC (Volunteer Reception Center) will be located at the old WV State Police Barracks across from the high school. Volunteers need to report there to sign in and receive work orders. The reception area will be open from 8 am to 2:30 pm. We have crews working tomorrow and would love to see you there. Let’s work together to get our families back into safe homes.