Red Cross volunteer helping relief efforts in West Virginia

More than a thousand homes have been affected by flooding in Southern West Virginia.


American Red Cross volunteers and staff have been working to distribute cleaning supplies, food and water to those affected by the floods. Jim Sheely, a volunteer from Charlotte, N.C., describes his deployment and the Red Cross’ efforts in West Virginia:

    I’m deployed here in South Charleston, W.Va., for floods that occurred about two weeks ago. I am assigned to the DR112-10 Headquarters as a Logistics Supervisor (Generalist). That means I do everything from emptying the trash to buying “stuff” and renting cars and trucks.

    The areas affected by the flooding are in the vicinity of Beckley, Logan and Welch. Logan is 50 miles south of headquarters, Beckley about two hours away, and Welch is about … well, you can’t get to Welch from here. All the communities are in coal mining areas and the flooding is blamed by the locals on silt washing down from strip mining and filling the traditional waterways. When there is a heavy rain, the runoff finds new places to escape that aren’t friendly to the residents of the off-the-road-spots where people have always lived. The number of people affected jumps around as new populations, who were cut off by washouts, are discovered by our Red Cross Disaster Assessment workers. There is a field kitchen from the Red Cross Charleston Chapter operating at a Baptist church in Logan, and three or four Emergency Response Vehicles are doing mobile feeding. The feeding and sheltering numbers are unusually high because of the scarcity of alternative lodging and restaurants in the communities.

    The Manassas Emergency Communications Response Vehicle opened the headquarters and then moved down to Verdunville, near Logan, yesterday to support Client Services. Bulk Distribution is in full swing giving out cleanup kits, trash bags, bleach, etc. They are distributing these supplies at at a fixed site, but volunteers are driving four-wheel ATVs distributing supplies where they are needed.

    Most of us at headquarters are sleeping at a motel. It isn’t the Ritz, but it’s clean and cheap and convenient to restaurants. I miss home and family but it’s good to feel like I’m making a difference – that’s why I volunteered. 


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