CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Keystone Drive area residents expressed their concerns at Yeager Airport’s board meeting Wednesday, following the massive hilltop slide earlier this month that damaged homes and forced them to evacuate.
“You can replace roads, but you can’t replace lives,” said airport board chairman Ed Hill, when discussing their efforts to take care of folks living in the the area, immediately.
Jay Goldman, Charleston real estate appraiser and former mayor, was hired by the Kanawha County Commission to provide free home appraisals to Keystone Drive residents.
Goldman began contacting residents of the affected area to get permission to inspect and appraise damaged homes and properties. Rick Atkinson, director at Yeager Airport, said he is very pleased with the county’s decision to hire Goldman.
“He will submit those damage assessments to the insurance companies and it will speed up the process of settling those claims,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson said appraisers will help residents find a place to live and accommodate any move in expenses. He said settlement offers will be made by the airport, but will range from funds to repair property all the way to full property buyouts, based on what the owners prefer.
A handful of Keystone Drive residents sat in on the board meeting Wednesday to try to receive some answers. Resident Wanda Pittman said she is concerned she will never move back into her home she grew up in her whole life.
“I live on the creek side. I was flooded about four feet and it destroyed everything in my downstairs. Everything is gone,” said Pittman.
Pittman’s sister Nancy Harvey said she shed many tears after the March 12 landslide. She said she thought she was only going to leave for her home for a short amount of time, but then she was informed about the high water levels.
“Then it became a reality that maybe we might not get to go back,” said Harvey, “It’s devastating.”
The residents were notified and asked if they would like to sell their properties or not. Harvey said she could not even think of selling her home.
“We’ve just been there way too long,” said Harvey, “There’s no place like home, like the Wizard of Oz says.”
Harvey, Pittman, and their brother Richard Crist said they felt helpless, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Like many in the Keystone Drive area, they are staying in motels or with other family members for the time being.