By Jennifer Gardner
The Charleston Gazette-Mail
By Jess Mancini
Parkersburg News and Sentinel
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the people wanting to help the victims of flooding in West Virginia, there are ways to help. And for people needing help, more and more local, state and federal resources are coming online.
Donations can be made to the American Red Cross for disaster relief, said Sharon Kesselring, executive director of the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia.
“Even the smallest donation brings hope to those in need,” Kesselring said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said that state and local emergency officials are working to ensure the safety of residents across the state. Tomblin declared an emergency and mobilzed the National Guard.
“The flooding we experienced Thursday and into (Friday) is among the worst in a century for some parts of the state,” Gov. Tomblin said. “Our team in the Emergency Operations Center worked through the night and continues to coordinate efforts with local officials today.
“On Thursday evening I declared a State of Emergency for 44 counties, including all but the Northern and Eastern Panhandles. I have authorized the deployment of up to 150 members of the West Virginia National Guard to assist local emergency responders as we continue to evaluate the situation …,” Tomblin said.
For residents wanting to assist the victims, money is among the best ways to help and goes a long way helping victims, Kesselring said.
“We are asking folks to consider donations to disaster relief,” she said. “Every single donation brings hope to those in need.”
Donations can be made several ways, including at redcross.org, Kesselring said.
Donations can also be sent by text to the Red Cross, she said. By texting redcross to 90999, a $10 donation will be made to the Red Cross that will be billed to the cell phone, Kesselring said. The agency has organized a fundraiser through WTAP where donations can be made by driving to the outside of the station from noon-6:30 p.m. today, she said.
Volunteers from the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia have become involved in the response to the intense storm, Kesselring said.
They are assisting at shelters and working with government and community agencies on damage assessments which determine the extent and location of damages, she said.
“We can’t do it alone,” she said.
More volunteers are needed, Kesselring said.
“We have also opened a link on our website for people who would like to volunteer,” she said. “Please visit redcrosswv.org to register to help.”
Volunteers are involved in providing a safe shelter, food, distribution of emergency relief supplies, emotional support, health services and recovery assistance, Kesselring said.
At the Federal level, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the State of West Virginia to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.
President Obama’s approved federal funding to affected individuals in of Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Nicholas counties. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
The President’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Nicholas counties.
West Virginians needing assistance should contact their local offices of emergency management. Contact information for each county office can be found at http://www.dhsem.wv.gov/Important%20Contact%20Numbers/Pages/default.aspx.
NOTE: Local relief efforts are being organized in each community impacted by the flooding. The needs are tremendous and the recover effort will be extensive. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
In the Kanawha County region, Union Mission is collecting drinking water, bleach, cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items at Kroger stores in Charleston and Huntington. Designated bins are set up at Kroger stores for customers to make donations. Union Mission will pick up and distribute supplies. Individuals not in the Charleston area who need water and supplies may call Union Ministries at 304-925-0366.
Parishes and missions in the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston are conducting a special second collection during all liturgies on the weekend of July 2-3. For those who wish to make a gift now, donors may contribute online to the CCWVa Disaster Recover Services fund at www.catholiccharitieswv.org, which will support recovery efforts from the June floods.
In Parkersburg, separate from the Red Cross, Rock N’ Paws and Friends, a group of pageant kings and queens who do community service, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. today at Southside Foodland and the Vienna Foodland will collect supplies for those affected by the flooding, Janette Hart of the group said.
The group is looking for water, toiletries, cleaning supplies, baby food, wipes and formula and non-perishable food, she said.
The items will be collected by the National Guard, which will distribute them, Hart said.
Those seeking help:
Contact your local office of emergency management. Contact information for each county office can be found at the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s website.
A temporary animal shelter has been setup at the I-79 Clendenin interstate exit. Pets will be accepted at this temporary shelter and then transported to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association.
Bulk water tankers have been setup by West Virginia American Water at the Dollar General on Maywood Avenue and Smith’s Foodfair in Clendenin, and Frame Road in Elkview across from the DOH garage. You must bring your own water tanks to fill.
The American Red Cross has set up various shelters. They can be found at: redcross.org/shelters.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources advises residents to take precautions while returning to their homes to begin clean up to reduce injury and illness. To ensure safety during cleanup, they suggest:
Ensuring electricity and gas is turned off in the house
Following instructions of the utility companies relative to restoration of gas and electrical services
Checking for foundation cracks or shifting of the house on the foundation before entering any house or building that has been flooded
Drain or pump water out of flooded basements
Hose down all floors, walls and ceilings with clean water, both basement and house before the surfaces dry, if possible
Disinfect surfaces with a solution of bleach (4 tablespoons of bleach per one gallon of clean water)
To protect your health while working in flood clean-up:
While working, keep hands away from mouth and face
Disinfect all wounds and dress them immediately
Wear protective clothing (rubber boots, rubber gloves and eye protection)
Wash hands often using clean water and soap
Ensure you have had a Tdap vaccine, which includes the tetanus vaccine