MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. — Residents of southern West Virginia remember well the aftermath of the 2001 flood along the Dunloup Creek watershed. Elderly residents were carried from their homes through waist-deep water, and many had no option but to return to sediment filled, molding homes when water receded.
The first of its kind in the nation, a $14 million buyout assisted many residents, but others left in the municipalities where houses were removed are only now, as the project finishes it final demolitions, understanding the cost of saying goodbye to longterm friends and neighbors.
Mount Hope water and sewer rates recently increased 35 percent, and are scheduled to go up again over the next two years for a total 63 percent water increase and 47 percent sewer increase over the three-year period. The drastic increases are meant to cover a debt service of more than $1.5 million.
Many residents and members of town council blame the Dunloup Creek Buyout for placing a hardship on municipal utilities and forcing rates up when more than 100 home were removed in Mount Hope. In the early stages of the buyout, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which managed the monetary appropriations, discussed the potential impact to local utilities — specifically the Mount Hope system and the White Oak Public Service District.
Communication between the agency and the City of Mount Hope collapsed…