WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The June 23rd flood wrecked the landscape of White Sulphur Springs. Hundreds of homes were damaged or lost entirely in the high water. The blow was so severe, many worried about how the town would recover and retain its population. The answer seems to lie in the plans for a new community called “Hope Village.”
The plan started with builder and architect Tom Crabtree who decided to secure land and start building houses to replace those lost.. The White Sulphur Springs town council gave approval to his housing project on former park lands along Big Bend Road.
The idea grew rapidly. SBP, a New Orleans based non-profit group which specializes in disaster recovery, is now on board. Funding for the project will start with donations from Mylan Pharmaceuticals and MedExpress. The fundraising goal is yet to be announced.
“This is a program for people whose homes have been destroyed by the flood, it’s not a first time home buyer program,” said SBP CEO Zack Rosenburg. “It’s very simple. We believe in America. If people work hard and owned a home, then we have to get them back into a home. That’s what this program is all about.”
Ground will be broken Saturday on the project. Plans call initially for 42 homes and a community park. The number could expand up to 100 homes depending on the level of need.
“Mennonites are going to build the first 24 houses,” said Rosenburg. “For people who can afford to pay some, they’ll pay some. The good people of West Virginia aren’t looking for a handout. For those whose income or financial position will only let them pay a nominal amount, that’s what they’ll do.”
SBP is considered a leader in the concept of disaster recovery. Rosenburg said they’ve learned from previous disasters and currently have similar home building projects underway in five other locations.
“We started after Hurricane Katrina rebuilding homes in New Orleans,” he said. “After Katrina we expanded to Joplin, Missouri, New York, and New Jersey. The mission is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery across the country.”
Groundbreaking on the first homes will be Saturday morning at 10 a.m.