Help continues for flood victims

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two weeks after the June flood, the needs of the survivors continue to change and, because of that, the work of the many organizations involved in the massive flood response are being altered as well.

At Mountain Mission in Charleston on Thursday, volunteers were sorting donated clothes by the bagful.  Next week, the site will open its doors as a central location in Kanawha County for those who lost clothing in the flood and need replacements.

Immediately after the storm, donations of items like bottled water, cleaning supplies, diapers and paper towels were the priorities.

“We’re now into the recovery stage and we need clothing.  People need dry clothing so we, in the last couple of days, have gone throughout the county at the distribution points, picked up the clothing and brought them here to Mountain Mission,” said Brent Pauley, CEO of EnAct Community Action.

His organization is serving as the coordinating agency for clothing distributions.

Most of the clothes left at Elkview Middle School as donations in the days after the flood, for example, have been relocated and are among the donations being sorted daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mountain Mission Activity Building, 1620 7th Avenue, Charleston.

More clothing donations are needed along with volunteer clothing sorters.

Beginning on Monday, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., those affected by flooding can pick up new clothes at the Mountain Mission site with ID.  Additionally, a “mobile wardrobe” in the EnAct Community Action bus will be going out into communities in the flood zone for those who cannot make it Charleston.

In addition to clothing, there’s also a need for food.

The United Way of Central West Virginia is serving as a collection point through Thursday, July 14 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for donations to the Elk River Backpack Blessings Program which has served  kids in the hardest flood hit areas of Elkview and Clendenin for the past four years.

“They put meals together for the children: two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners in a bag and they pick them up or they deliver them to the kids,” said Mendi Harkins, chief financial officer for the United Way of Central West Virginia.

The backpack feeding program program lost its entire stock and storage space when floodwaters tore through the Clendenin United Methodist Church, what had been its base.

Currently, Debi O’Dell, a retired Herbert Hoover High School teacher who started the program to make sure kids were fed on weekends, is using borrowed space at a church in Pinch.

Items needed for flood relief bags for kids include applesauce cups, breakfast cereal bars, bug spray, canned pasta with meat, canvas totes, small bags of chips, small bags of cookies, cheese crackers, flavored water, fruit such as apples, graham crackers, juice, Nutrigrain bars, pudding or fruit cups, shampoo (3 in 1), Slim Jims, soup – chicken noodle and vegetable, squeeze fruits and sunscreen for kids.

On Wednesday, the program provided food bags to 262 kids, an increase of more than 100 from service numbers before the flood, according to Harkins.

“We were lucky to hear about this,” Harkins said.  “Hopefully, the response will be overwhelming.”

Pauley said a lot of people in Kanawha County are looking for ways to help.

“West Virginians helping West Virginians, there’s nothing better than that,” Pauley told MetroNews.  “The people didn’t expect this, they didn’t deserve it.  It happened.  It’s an act of nature and we need to just pitch in and help them get back on their feet and make sure that they’re taken care of.”

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