Photographer Tom Hindman captures images of flood recovery
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — News this week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s request for a two-week extension for residents affected by the June flooding to apply for individual assistance should come as relief to many involved in the flood recovery.
It’s been more than 50 days since flood waters devastated areas of West Virginia: Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers and Webster counties were declared federal disaster areas.
Recently, the West Virginia Press Association sent photographer Tom Hindman into the region to document how the recovery is progressing.
While many in the flooded areas are on the way to recovery, others are still struggling with getting life back together after everything was destroyed.
Hindman talked with Lowell Drake, 78 of Clay. Drake, who doesn’t hear well, had just learned about FEMA’s assistance. With no electric or phone and his vehicle lost in the flooding. Drake has been isolated. Drake has no transportation and has gotten no mail delivery since the flood.
Hindman also photographed the 2nd Cherry River Festival in Richwood.
Richwood High School band uniforms were fished from the muddy waters that destroyed the high school. Ike Morris from Glenville paid for the cleaning of the uniforms, valued at $400,000.
As an observer said, the pride in Richwood rose higher than the flood waters did on June 23.
For those still needing to register with FEMA, call 800-621-3362, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or visit the nearest Disaster Recovery Center. There is a Disaster Recovery Center at the Elkview School complex, near Big Chimney.
Suffering from hearing loss, Lowell Drake, 78, of Clay sits on his front porch and listens as Marti Hersom, a volunteer with the citizen’s group Rene’s Relief, explains to him that he should not keep anything that was in the water. Drake had filled out paperwork with FEMA four weeks after the devastating flood. He said he had no idea that there was such an agency. Drake has no tranportation and there has been no mail delivery since the flood. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Standing in his flooded home on Dondon Road in Clay, Lowell Drake says he will get everything back in order. He has worked for four weeks trying to get the mud shoveled out of the first flood while living in the upsairs. The night of the flooding, he walked out in waist high water and stayed on the mountainside until the next day when the waters receded. His 1986 Oldmobile station wagon was buried nearly up to the windows about 300 yards away.
Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Orders Construction and the West Virginia Department of Highways replace a bridge on Route 4 near Clay that was destroyed during the June 23 flooding. A temporary bridge has been put in place to handle traffic.Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Traffic lights were set up in several locations along Route 4 between Clendenin and Clay. Many sections of the road have been damaged and traffic is reduced to one-lane travel. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Volunteers Alex Hersom and Luke Gallagher, along with others from Rene’s Relief, have been at this house four weeks getting it repaired.Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Working at an elderly woman’s house in Clay, volunteers Alex Hersom and Luke Gallagher, along with others from Rene’s Relief, have been at the house four weeks. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Piles of debris in the streets in Clendenin still show the impact of the flooding on June 23. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Brian Tignor, at left, a 38-year employee of Smith’s Foodfair, is the meat manager and handles other duties as needed. He talks with Jim Smith about the progress of restocking and recovery efforts at Smith’s Foodfair store. Smith said the store should be open by the end of August. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Bill Smith stands in the newly remodeled Family Dollar that was flooded on June 23. Smith and his brother own the Elk Shopping Plaza where the store is located. The store was remodeled just a few weeks before the flood. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
All the stores in Elk Shopping Plaza onwned by Jim and Bill Smith are scheduled to reopen by the end of August. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
CVS Pharmacy brought in a mobile unit to fill prescriptions along with selling over the counter retail items since the flooding. The mobile unit is located behind the Elk Middle School. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelistic association that is nondenominational, has been in the flooded areas since the flooding on June 23. A spokesman for the group said over 800 volunteers has helped people in the region. This group of volunteers were gutting Paula Darnell’s house in Clendenin. She had lost everything including her Jeep. Her daughter’s home was washed away. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Paula Darnell of Clendenin washes off her feet on what was the driveway of where her daughter’s house was located before the flood. Her daughter, Charlotte, set up a make-shift shelter in a dog kennel on the property.
Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Charlotte Darnell, 46, hugs her mom Paula, 68, in their make-shift dwelling — which had been their dog kennel — in Clendenin. Charlotte said the area they are standing is the kitchen & livingroom, a bedroom is set up on the oposite side. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Larry Hayes’ house was completely destroyed on Jordan Creek in Elkview. The house of his neighbor, Bob Sanders, sustained damage but was still standing after waters receded. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
A pile of garbage along Route 4 in Clendenin sports a hunter’s prized deer trophy. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
The foundation is all that is left of Charlotte Darnell’s house in Clendenin. Darnell’s mother, Paula, said they have no idea where the remains of the house are located. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Bob Sanders and Tracy Ball work on building a chicken coop on the banks of Jordan Creek where Sanders’ house and bridge were damaged. Sanders’ brother, Bill, lived two houses down and was killed the night of June 23 when Jordan Creek overflowed its banks. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
Route 119 in Elkview was damaged at the junction with Jordan Creek. The flood waters filled a farmer’s field with thick mud. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association
An army of people converged on Elk Middle on Aug. 6 in an effort to get the school ready for opening day on Aug. 8. On June 23, with water rising, school items were quickly packed into boxes in an effort to save materials before the flood waters destroyed them. With no names or locations to identify the boxes, Jennifer Wible, a seventh grade math teacher, and Chelsea Caswell, a seventh grade science teacher, opened boxes and — in the spirit of a bingo game — would shout out “BINGO” when they could identify the rightful owner of the box. Tom Hindman for the West Virginia Press Association
Richwood band uniforms were fished from the muddy waters that destroyed the high school. Ike Morris of Glenville paid for the cleaning the uniforms. valued at $400,000. The band is the largest Single A band in the West Virginia. The 140-member band represents nearly half of the student population of RHS. The band has a standing invitation to perform at Disneyland. Tom Hindman-West Virginia Press Association