MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — As the death toll climbs to at least 20 in West Virginia counties severely affected by recent flooding and storms, members of the Eastern Panhandle community are joining forces to help provide some relief.
Travis Bishop, owner of Tannermans Trading Company in Martinsburg, said he wanted to help after he saw Facebook posts from friends in affected areas.
“Honestly, I was laying in bed last night, and I saw my friend from Elkview put up a video of the flooding. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. That doesn’t resonate with me,” Bishop said Friday morning when he started collecting donations to take to southern West Virginia. “I broke down a little bit, I prayed about it and I put it on Facebook. This community has really come together. I feel bad for these people because they have nothing, and this is so powerful. We’re all Mountaineers, and we really do help our own.”
While Bishop said he planned to begin his trip down south Friday night, Tannermans, which is located at 45 Monroe St. off Williamsport Pike near Berkeley Plaza, will be collecting donations into the weekend and throughout next week.
“This is what people need to see in action. It’s about helping communities you don’t even know, and the dividends pay for eternity,” Bishop said. “This gives them faith in humanity. It takes a village and, together, we make big differences. I just want to serve people.”
Bishop emphasized that donors should focus on immediate need items and he would prefer not to accept clothes at this time.
Paul Macom, CEO of EastRidge Health Systems in Martinsburg, also said he will be collecting donations for disaster relief, which will be focused on cleaning products.
“What I want to do is try to mobilize the community to donate cleaning supplies for folks who were affected by the flooding,” Macom said. “I have been to areas that were very severely flooded in McDowell and Wyoming counties. By now, those shelves are empty of (cleaning) supplies. If they don’t come in from the outside, it’s going to be days or weeks before they’re restocked. In addition, people are looking at expenses beyond their capability, and anything we can do to give donations is going to be helpful.”
Macom said once donations trail off early next week, he expects they will be loaded into box trucks and head to Southern West Virginia. Cleaning products, particularly bleach and buckets, can be dropped off at 270 Cumbo Road in Hedgesville next to James Rumsey Technical Institute. For more information, Macom said to call 304-582-2167 or 681-258-2190.
Pastor Chris Johnson with Second Baptist Church in Martinsburg said the church is also collecting donations for the relief effort because he felt the need to help out in the community.
“I was in Miami during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, so I know what it’s like to stand in a FEMA line,” Johnson said. “When I hear that people need help of any kind, I just feel like it’s the right thing to do.”
Leadership West Virginia is also participating in efforts to collect items to help those who have been devastated by the flooding.
RMS Shredding will be collecting items this weekend at the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce office parking lot at 198 Viking Way in Martinsburg on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Staff writer Emily Daniels can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/emilykdaniels.