Eastern Panhandle schools help one in flood zone

Photo submitted to The Journal From left, Cindy Welsh, Shelly Sexton, Jim Sexton, Nicole Sexton, Payshence Lyons and Kaylee Carper unload school supplies Saturday in Clendenin for schools affected by the recent floods in the southern parts of West Virginia.
Photo submitted to The Journal From left, Cindy Welsh, Shelly Sexton, Jim Sexton, Nicole Sexton, Payshence Lyons and Kaylee Carper unload school supplies Saturday in Clendenin for schools affected by the recent floods in the southern parts of West Virginia.
Photo submitted to The Journal
From left, Cindy Welsh, Shelly Sexton, Jim Sexton, Nicole Sexton, Payshence Lyons and Kaylee Carper unload school supplies Saturday in Clendenin for schools affected by the recent floods in the southern parts of West Virginia.

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. — Hedgesville Elementary School kindergarten teacher Cindy Welsh and Title 1 teacher Shelly Sexton joined forces with Tomahawk Intermediate School to send books, educational games and other school supplies to a school in the Southern West Virginia flood area.

“After everything happened we were on Facebook looking at things. I looked up Clendenin and emailed the principal,” Welsh said. The teachers found items that they could spare and purchased more.

Clendenin Elementary is a complete loss.

It’s so bad that they are not even allowed to go in there,” Welsh said. “So then we put out emails to all the staff. (The principal) sent me pictures of the inside of the school. I posted those on Facebook and we had 130 shares. Most of it is what teachers have pulled from their resources.”

They loaded a trailer and made the trip to Clendenin on Saturday morning.

Vanessa Brown is the principal of Clendenin Elementary School. She has been concerned for her student’s safety and well-being.

“From about day four I was able to get back in our building and salvage our emergency cards and start contacting kids to see if they were affected by the flooding and our staff started sending out supplies,” Brown said. “If our parents said ‘hey I need Rubbermaid containers,’ we would go find someplace that had Rubbermaid containers and take them to them. I have had contact with, I would estimate 50 percent of my student population.”

After the flooding the school was declared a HazMat site.

“It’s so bad that they are not even allowed to go in there,” Welsh said.

Brown’s teachers also had to deal with loss.

“I know of 12 staff members who are impacted by the flooding, six of whom have lost their primary housing and their cars,” Brown said.

The stress on residents of the area has been hard. Some people are starting all over in life. They have lost all their belongs, cars and home. Their world has been turned upside down.

“Several people in our area have said ‘why not just delay school, let’s not open school, we’re not ready yet.’ And my answer to that is if I can provide a clean, healthy place for students to get two meals a day and create some normalcy, then I’m doing a service to the community. If you’re rebuilding your house you need a safe place for your children to be for eight hours a day while you work on that,” Brown said.

Providing for the students and trying to re-establish a routine has become a priority for Brown.

“Our children are not going to lose academically,” she said.

Any new buildings, even temporary classrooms, have to have electrical and water hookups. That requires a bidding process and construction time. The students and teachers will be group together in buildings that are healthy enough for the kids and staff.

Anyone can assist the students with a donation to the school.

“There is a GoFundMe account for Kanawha County Schools. They can also write a check and mail it to Clendenin Elementary,” Brown said.

All the supplies from local teachers are needed at the flooded schools.

“We are so blessed that they are bringing us these materials because my staff needs it, my students need it,” Brown said. “I have seen the best of humanity out of this. Together we are stronger is our motto this year!”

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