CLENDENIN, W.Va. — A year ago MetroNews found Dr. Larry Schoonover in the front yard of his home at Procious in Clay County. All of his possessions were stacked high in his front yard and friends and volunteers were helping carry more soaked belongings out the doors of his home to add to the growing pile. Covered in mud from head to toe and soaked in sweat, he laughed, because it was about all he could do at that point.
During the days which followed the June 2016 flood, Schoonover spent all of his waking hours working on his house. However, unlike most flood victims, he had another mess waiting at his dental practice in downtown Clendenin.
“The work doesn’t ever stop,” Schoonover said during a rare break last week. “You keep thinking you’re going to get to an end point, but that end point never arrives.”
Schoonover and his family managed to get the cleanup part of the home done in about three weeks. Belongings which could be salvaged were pressure washed and placed in a storage pod. The drywall, flooring, and carpet were removed and added to the massive pile in the yard.
“Believe it or not we still find mud,” he said. “We washed those things repeatedly, but now as we’re unboxing those things to bring back into the house, we’re still finding mud.”
It took months to find a contractor with the time to dedicate to hanging drywall and making the necessary repairs to his home. While he waited on the contractors, he headed to his office in Clendenin and began the same process of tossing out thousands of dollars worth of dental equipment and gutting the building. He’d still be shoveling were it not for the extreme kindness of strangers.
“We had volunteers from all over. They were from out of state and all over the state. They were such a blessing with manpower beyond your imagination,” he explained. “Here in my office the whole basement was filled with mud. There’s no elevator and no drain, so we had to carry it out in buckets. Volunteers did that tirelessly for hours on end and with a smile on their face. It was such a blessing.”
Schoonover was able to at least get his kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms back in place at his home by December 23rd.
“At that point we went from ‘camping’ to ‘glamping’,” he laughed.
There is still much more restoration work needed to his home. After waiting his turn for contractors to help restore the office, he was finally able to get his dental office back into enough shape to start seeing patients on a limited basis by March. But there is plenty of work still needed there as well..
“It was a major ordeal just to find replacement equipment,” he said. “The house still doesn’t have furnishings other than some collected articles from a number of sources just to get things started again.”
In his office, a single file cabinet is about half filled with folders, representing the number of patients he is seeing. About six similar cabinets were filled with patient charts when the water rose. He’s literally rebuilding his office and his practice at the same time.
“It’s kind of like when a family has a newborn baby. Before they have a child they think they are busy and they love as much as they can love,” he said. “Then a baby comes into their life and all of a sudden they find more room in their heart to love the child and time to spend with the baby and still get all their work done. When you’re faced with a task as daunting as it has been to completely lose all of your home, your possessions, your vehicles, your business, and all of your equipment and then to have to start over, somehow you find the time, the energy, and the resilience to get the job done because it has to be done.”