MCMECHEN, W.Va. — The City of McMechen in Marshall County is getting $100,000 from a local business for recovery after July flooding and one of the business owners tells MetroNews he’s hoping that donation inspires a greater influx of assistance.
“They need some serious help to get that town back to where it was and quickly,” Michael Ferns, Jr. told MetroNews on Friday as A&B Kia in Benwood, the company he owns with Michael Ferns, Sr., the donation for flood relief.
McMechen Mayor Gregg Wolfe, accepted it for use as he and members of McMechen’s City Council see fit.
“When you drive through there, it’s almost like you’re not even in America,” Ferns said of Wolfe’s municipality. “You get the feeling like you’re almost in a Third World country.”
On the night of July 28, more than five inches of rain fell in more than an hour in McMechen.
Three small creeks running from hillsides toward the Ohio River turned into raging rapids which pushed mud and rocks through entire homes, according to witnesses.
Information from the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management indicated that, of the more than 790 homes that were damaged in some form statewide in the July storms, 364 were in Marshall County — mostly in McMechen.
A total of 55 Marshall County homes sustained major damage or were destroyed in damage assessments West Virginia was preparing to submit this week to the federal government in a request for a Federal Disaster Declaration.
Ferns said they had to do something to help immediately.
“A lot of people have come in and done photo ops and showed up with camera crews and all stuff, but it doesn’t look like anything’s getting done,” he said.
“If they’re not going to help, then it relies on local businesses to help, but somebody needs to help and they need to help today. They needed the help last week because the situation is dire.”
In addition to the $100,000 McMechen donation, A&B Kia will be holding a flood fundraiser on Aug. 27 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Benwood dealership.
“While $100,000 is a lot of money, it’s going to be a small dent in what’s needed to make this recovery happy,” Ferns said.
“I’m just hoping that, really, other businesses or anybody can get involved, no matter how little (they have to give).”