YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A group of regional American Red Cross volunteers traveled to West Virginia this past weekend to help flood victims.
Approximately 1,800 homes were destroyed in an instant, washed away by the flood waters last week. Thousands are without power and gas service, and as many as 60 roads are closed.
“Some area’s roads are completely washed out, bridges washed out,” said West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Amid the devastation are those helping to get the state back on its feet. The National Guard and hundreds of volunteers are pouring in to the state to provide relief, including at least seven from northeast Ohio.
“We’re going to be probably in a steady state of a couple hundred guardsmen for a significant period of time, several weeks, to try to work out this issue,” said Major General James Hoyer.
The Red Cross says the outpouring of support is overwhelming.
“Right now we have over 400 people here in West Virginia, volunteering, going out into the community, assisting with sheltering, doing public affairs like I am, so it’s awe-inspiring to see all of the people who have shown up to help the Mountaineer State,” said Red Cross representative Mary Williams.
Volunteers lend their skills in everything from public relations, to information technology, to simply distributing food and water.
“Keeping people hydrated is one of our primary focuses, and we are able to do that through the power and generosity of the American people,” Williams said.
The rebuilding process will take time as families try to salvage what they can from the wreckage.
Recently, officials reduced the death toll from 25 to 23 after two people missing and presumed dead were found alive.
“There is so much devastation going on from last week’s flood, but there is also so much hope from the people who are happy to have their families and to have lived through the experience,” Williams said.
If you are in West Virginia, you can list yourself as “safe and well” so family and friends know you are okay. If you have friends or family in West Virginia, you can also check to see if they have registered as “safe and well.”
The Red Cross has information on its website about becoming a volunteer and donating to the West Virginia flooding victims online. People can also donate via phone by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.