Volunteer organization coordinator: Flood recovery will last 5+ years

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state chair for Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster predicts full recovery from the June 23 flood in central and southeastern West Virginia after devastating storms that destroyed entire communities in a matter of hours will take years.

“With this disaster and the magnitude of this disaster, we’re looking at, probably, a five to six year long-term recovery operation just for this one storm,” Jenny Gannaway said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Long-term recovery is a specialty for VOAD.

Made up of independent organizations, VOAD identifies unmet needs following disasters and facilitates the delivery of needed services or supplies while trying to eliminate duplications.

Their work continues long after others leave.

The organization has been operating in the Flood Zone since the waters rose. In the immediate storm afternoon, VOAD was coordinating feeding, shelter and supply operations in the 12 Federal Disaster Declaration counties.

That work has since transitioned.

More than a month after the flood, volunteers were mucking out homes, working with property owners to fix power problems, assisting with furniture location and addressing other shorter-term needs on a case-by-case basis.

In instances where home damages can be repaired in a matter of days, that work is being completed as resources allow.

A priority list is being kept, according to Gannaway.

For the hardest hit, though, Gannaway said VOAD assistance will wait until after all other assistance options from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration and other federal agencies were exhausted.

At that point, “Those families who are left that can’t help themselves that would still need help to get their home rebuilt, a home that’s got major damage that would need to be repaired, we can then go in and help those families,” Gannaway said.

Voluntary organizations, with specific skills, are providing free services.

“It takes time to rebuild homes. If you’ve got 200 homes you’ve got to rebuild, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Gannaway cautioned. “That does take a little bit of time.”

The goal, she said, is to make families whole.

“We definitely get to those families who are most vulnerable: your elderly, your disabled, your families that may have children in school. Those are going to be our top priorities to make sure they have a safe and secure home to live in,” Gannaway explained.

Next week, VOAD will begin operating call centers in each of the flood-affected counties for long-term flood assistance.

Until then, requests for help can be submitted through local emergency managers, at Disaster Recovery Centers or by e-mail at wvvoadflood16@yahoo.com.





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