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Editorial: Flood relief is neighbor helping neighbor

From The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg:

It seems like the state of West Virginia is becoming accustomed to flooding, just as residents in California are used to fighting massive forest fires. Flooding and forest fires are powerful forces that cause loss of life and destruction of homes. In addition, both flooding and forest fires are related to natural causes associated with extreme weather.

Last year, a 1,000-year flood wrought widespread devastation across Central and Southern West Virginia. Greenbrier County and the Elk River area were the hardest hit. The cleanup efforts and donations of food, supplies and money were an outpouring of love and support from friends, neighbors and fellow Mountain State residents alike. The recovery effort continues over a year later.

The Great Flood of 1985 engulfed most of North Central West Virginia and the state’s Eastern Highlands. Much of Clarksburg was flooded, as were towns like Rowlesburg, Parsons, Petersburg, Franklin and Moorefield. Flooding was particularly severe along the Cheat River.

On Friday night and Saturday morning, heavy rain caused massive flooding in North Central West Virginia, which led Gov. Jim Justice to declare a state of emergency in six counties, including Marion, Harrison, Wetzel and Monongalia.

The communities of Mannington, Rachel and Farmington in Marion County appear to be the hardest hit. Residents of Mannington had to evacuate their homes, and residents and businesses alike in other communities faced problems with rising water and closed highways.

According to officials at the Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, about 30 water rescues were carried out in the Mannington and Rachel areas. There were also 21 reports of road flooding.

Access to many areas is currently blocked, with tree falls and rock slides reported throughout the area.

“This is probably one of the bigger (floods) the center has seen,” a Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management official said, adding, “Farmington is the next area. … (The water) was starting to get on to the road at different places.”

Further downstream in Barrackville, the water didn’t rise to the levels it did in Mannington and Farmington, but local residents said it’s still the worst flooding the town has seen in years.

Emergency responders, as well as residents, continue to assess the damage and stand ready to lend assistance to those in need.

Justice announced Saturday:

“We have mobilized our National Guard and highways personnel, and they are assisting other first responders from across the state to make sure our citizens in these affected areas are being kept safe and out of harm’s way. Numerous evacuations have and are continuing to take place, and as of right now no fatalities or serious injuries have been reported — and we want to keep it that way.

“I, of all people, know how terrible these situations can be after experiencing the tragedy of the flooding in West Virginia during June 2016. But West Virginians are strong people, and in this time of need, we will do everything we can to aid our neighbors. After the waters recede, we will work with them to begin cleanup and start the recovery process from this horrible devastation.”

Those looking to help the flood victims can donate goods at Fairmont State University’s Falcon Center for a relief effort being organized by student government. We are certain other groups and organizations will announce flood-relief efforts in the days ahead. We expect an announcement shortly from the American Red Cross on how to contribute through its official channels to assist flood victims.

The recent flooding has hurt many of our friends and neighbors. We’re encouraging all West Virginians to assist in the cleanup and relief process.

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