ELKVIEW, W.Va. — Nearly two years ago, Elkview Middle School Principal Melissa Lovejoy had no choice but to help her school community recover from a devastating flood.

“There was definitely emotional times through that. As you can see, I still get emotional about it,” Lovejoy said as she wiped away tears standing inside the middle school’s library.

Her school was not destroyed in the June 2016 flood, but nearby Herbert Hoover High School was. High school students now attend school in portable classroom buildings on Elkview Middle’s campus.

“That created a lot of changes through the entire school year last year, but no body questioned it,” Lovejoy said of her staff’s support.

The flood destroyed homes, businesses and claimed the lives of 23 people. Lovejoy had to work tirelessly to make sure students, families and her staff were taken care of.

On Tuesday, she was awarded for her work during and after the flood.

Lovejoy received the “Life Changer of the Year Award” from the National Life Group.

She was surprised by family, friends and her staff in the school’s library.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Lovejoy said. “I mean, if I had to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing.”

Following the months after the flood, Lovejoy coordinated a food pantry and clothing donations for people in need.

“She really provided a safe place for members of the community to go to when they had no where to go to,” said Christina D’Agostino, communications program lead at National Life Group.

D’Agostino presented the award to Lovejoy telling her “you and your school were the one thing that represented hope.”

Lovejoy went above and beyond to create a positive influence in the community, D’Agostino said.

“I think Missy really defines what we look for in a Life Changer,” she said.

Out of 825 nominees, Lovejoy is one of 12 educators nationwide to receive the award and a $3,000 check. Half of the money will go toward school expenses.

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