As Greenbrier County and beyond continues to work on recovering from the devastating floods of June 23, 2016, we at the United Way of Greenbrier Valley are dedicated to being good stewards of all donations received. Contributions to the United Way of Greenbrier Valley's Flood Recovery Fund will stay local. Great, big thanks to those who have generously contributed to this growing fund. These gifts will go a long way in rebuilding our small but mighty West Virginia towns.
Flood Relief Efforts
In the days following the June 2016 flooding, United Way of Greenbrier Valley was hands-on in the initial phase of relief efforts. Our strategy was simple: do what United Way does. So we examined the needs, determined the most effective and efficient way to help, rallied our partners and resources, and deployed them.
Here is a snapshot of our role during the initial phase of disaster relief:
Phase 1: Working Together
In partnership with St. James' Episcopal Church in Lewisburg, we opened the first flood relief distribution center for the area. With an easily accessible site not affected by the flood, we were able to receive and organize truckloads of in-kind donations from all over the country. We enlisted the support of community volunteers to load vehicles with flood relief items and quickly distribute them to affected areas. United Way of GBV convened local partners to get hot meals to flood victims and volunteers throughout the area as well. As the waters receded and the roads became clear, we were then able to direct incoming supplies to the appropriate flood relief distribution sites throughout the county.
With so many amazing people wanting to lend a helping hand, we coordinated hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours of work. Our volunteers were INCREDIBLE. They helped distribute water and food, organize donations, clean up/muck out, staff sites, and fill in wherever they were needed. We cannot thank them enough. We then partnered with Volunteer WV to coordinate long-term volunteers.
Phase 2: Addressing Immediate Needs
United Way of GBV knew there were immediate needs to address and used generously donated flood relief funds to purchase additional supplies that were in high demand. $12,000 was spent on necessary supplies such as: food, water, cleaning supplies, boots, gloves, masks, paper products, flashlights, batteries, lanterns, tarps, dehumidifiers, sump pumps, generators, totes, buckets, mops, brooms, squeegees, toiletries, and baby items.
With so many items being donated and more coming in every day, we turned our attention to needs outside of donated supplies and worked with community leaders to distribute hundreds of gift cards to folks so they could purchase what they needed to make it through another day. $65,000 was spent on gift cards to Lowes, Kroger, Food Lion, Wal Mart, Shell, plus loaded Visa and MasterCard gift cards.
Hundreds of people were displaced in the Greenbrier Valley after the flood. Many stayed (and are still staying) with friends and loved ones. Others were able to find rentals while their homes are being rebuilt or until they figure out the next step. $14,110 has been spent so far on helping people with rent & mortgage payments and utility bills.
Phase 3: Supporting Long-Term Recovery
Moving forward, our focus is on long-term recovery efforts. United Way of GBV has partnered with the Greater Greenbrier Long-Term Recovery Committee (GGLTRC) to support their efforts in rebuilding the Greenbrier Valley. United Way of GBV contributed $50,000 to the GGLTRC for the support of a Disaster Program Coordinator and 2 AmeriCorps Vista members, all of whom will focus on flood recovery in Greenbrier Valley.
We continue to team up with Appalachia Service Project in their effor to rebuild Rainelle. United Way of GBV is sponsoring 2 new homes from start to finish for $110,000. We're also sponsoring the demolition of 10 flood-damaged homes for $30,000 to make way for more new builds. In addition to these two new homes and the demolition of 10 damaged ones, United Way of GBV donated $10,000 to purchase a new staff home for the owners of the Alderson Hospitality House, one of our partner agencies, as their home was completely destroyed.
In partnership with Neighbors Loving Neighbors, United Way of GBV split the cost of a trailer for a family of four in White Sulphur Springs - $22,140.
As folks start to move back into new or repaired homes, United Way of GBV has been there to help several families purchase big-ticket items such as refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, washers, dryers, and gas heaters. So far we have spent $13,335 on appliances and home furnishings.
Gateway Industries in Ronceverte is one of our community partners who was hit very hard by the flood. United Way of GBV committed $10,000 to helping this agency get back on its feet and serving those in need.
Repairs and rebuilding will be an ongoing effort. United Way of GBV has provided financial assistance with the high costs of materials and contractors for $35,000 so far.
Homes weren't the only things destroyed in the flood. Many survivors lost their vehicles as well. We spent $9,700 on a gently used car for an ederly woman who wanted nothing more than to be able to drive to see her daughter.
We recognize that disaster recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. With so much work to be done and more money in the flood fund to be distributed, United Way of Greenbrier Valley is committed to ensuring that funds are spent wisely, used conscientiously, reported transparently, all while having the greatest impact. In addition to working with the Greater Greenbrier Long-Term Recovery Committee to support unmet needs, United Way of GBV will also award grants to our partner agencies and other nonprofit organizations that provide direct services to flood affected survivors and areas.
Thank you for your support!