West Virginia answers the call

Hoppy’s Commentary
We’re hearing more stories now about some of the heroics by first responders and others who risked their own lives to save others caught in the killing floodwaters.

In Greenbrier County, State Troopers waded into a flooded house to rescue an elderly woman floating on a mattress, crying out for help.

In Clendenin, a fire fighter used a tractor and a rope to pull a man to safety.

There are dozens of stories like that from last Thursday and Friday in the hardest-hit counties, as emergency personnel worked desperately to reach people trapped by the rapidly rising waters.

Hundreds of first responders put themselves in harm’s way and worked to the point of bone-crushing fatigue to help their communities. We lost 23 West Virginians in the Flood of 2016, but many more lives were saved because of their efforts.

West Virginia owes them a debt of gratitude.

Meanwhile, both government agencies and non-government organizations have marshaled a remarkable range of resources to help flood victims. The West Virginia chapter of Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters is coordinating volunteer relief.

WVVOAD is providing assistance for those who need help mucking out their homes. They can be reached at 1-800-451-1954. WVVOAD is also helping coordinate donations at wvoad.org and organizing individuals who want to volunteer to help at volunteerwv.org.

But of course there are also thousands of people who are pitching in on their own, helping folks clean up, cooking meals, donating cleaning supplies and whatever people need. Nearly every report from the hardest-hit communities includes stories of people pitching in.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has over 250 representatives in the state. Some are inspecting damaged property in three counties included in the disaster declaration so that individual applications for cash to pay for a place to stay or home repairs can be processed quickly.

FEMA reps, along with state and local officials, also surveyed damage in Clay, Fayette, Monroe, Roane and Summers Counties yesterday and will be in Webster and Pocahontas today as part of the process to see if they qualify for federal assistance. No doubt several of them will.

FEMA says people with flood damage in those counties should not wait for the declaration, but rather call FEMA now at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to register for assistance or apply on line at DisasterAssistance.gov .

As John Kennedy famously said during one of his rain-soaked visits to the Mountain State, “The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do.” West Virginia’s measure is being taken again, and again the state and its people are answering the call.