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Fundraisers planned for Kanawha school board member who lost home in fire

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A number of fundraisers are taking place in Charleston on Saturday to support Charleston Main Streets Director and Kanawha County Board of Education member Ric Cavender who lost his home in a fire a week ago Friday.

Ric Cavender

“It’s been really overwhelming, and I can’t say thank you enough to everyone,” Cavender said as he expressed his gratitude in an interview with MetroNews.

Cavender’s home on Chester Road in the Edgewood district burned to the ground May 5. He tried to salvage some items, but basically lost everything he owned including his dog.

“We’re mourning our dog and that’s going to take a while, but most of the things that were in my home can be replaced and will be replaced,” he said. “I find myself of a daily basis right now remembering little things that I lost and it may be something as simple as my high school yearbook.”

In the last week, community leaders have rallied together to raise money for Cavender and his two sons. A fundraiser will be held at Short Story Brewery on Summers Street in Charleston at 3 p.m. Saturday called “Foam a Few Blocks from the Dome” after the Foam at the Dome event was postponed due to weather.

A similar fundraiser will be held at Fife Street Brewing from 7-10 p.m. Saturday.

For those who can’t make it to either brewery, donations are being accepted through a GoFundMe page set up by Kanawha County BOE President Tracy White. The page had already received more than $34,000 as of 11 a.m. Friday.

Cavender said while he’s grateful for the financial help, he’s also appreciating those who’ve offered emotional support. He said people who have also lost their homes in a fire have been reaching out to him.

“The feeling that I had Friday night as I watched my house burn to the ground was a very lonely feeling. You feel like you’re the only person in history that has been through this and to get that support from folks who have also went through this and to get that perspective has been really helpful,” he said.

The loss is also traumatic for Cavender because it was no ordinary home. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It was the third house built in all of Edgewood. It was one of the most historic homes in all of Charleston actually,” he said. “I sort of treated it like it was a family member.”

Cavender said his dream is to rebuild on the same lot.

Smoke was showing when crews first arrived but soon the house was full of flames. (Photo/MetroNews)

“Who knows what will happen, but I would love to be able to rebuild on the lot, rebuild it exactly the way it looked and bring it back,” he said.

Cavender declined to comment on the controversy surrounding the fire with West Virginia American Water Company. In a statement released earlier this week, the company said three fire hydrants along Edgewood Drive, Beech Avenue and Chester Road did not have enough water pressure to fight the blaze. It took firefighters four hours to put out the fire due to the insufficient water flow.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin called the situation “unacceptable.” On Tuesday, the mayor met with WVAWC officials and the Charleston Fire Department to address the issue.

The three fire hydrants have been out of service until they can be replaced. Charleston firefighters have placed a water tanker truck in the area for the time being.

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