Disaster Relief units from seven states respond to West Virginia floods

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--Deadly flash floods that swept through much of southern West Virginia July 8 have prompted activation of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from six states - including three feeding units, clean-up units from five states and two communication units.

Damage from the floods that ravaged mountain hollows and killed at least three people have been estimated at more than $20 million. About 1,000 homes were destroyed, and another 2,000 were badly damaged, according to Leon White, Disaster Relief director for the West Virginia Baptist Convention.

White said the floods came after seven inches of rain fell in three hours the morning of July 8.

"Some of the towns are just completely wiped out," said White. "It just came through the center of town. In Mullens, every business in town was destroyed."

Several Southern Baptist churches and many homes of church members were also among those left homeless due to the storms. Pineville Baptist Church in Pineville, W.Va., for instance, suffered heavy damage to its education building, fellowship hall, and a storage garage.

White said the area impacted is former coal-minding country where most of the homes and businesses are located in river valleys -- largely because that is the only property flat enough to build on. Consequently, most of the property was in a flood zone and was not covered by insurance, including the Pineville Church.

White anticipates Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crews will be providing both short-term cleanup and long-term rebuilding services in the affected area.

Disaster Relief volunteers first responded on Tuesday, when feeding units from Kentucky and Ohio were sent to New Hope Baptist Church in Mullins and Harbor Light Baptist Church in Oceana, respectively. A third feeding unit, from North Carolina, was activated and sent to the region the next day.

Southern Baptist feeding units work directly with the American Red Cross, preparing meals for delivery by the Red Cross to flood victims and relief workers both in affected neighborhoods and at shelters.

Additionally, "mud-out" units specially trained in cleaning out flood-damaged homes were activated from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky. They will be working primarily out of the towns of Pageton, Pineville, Oceana, Paytona and Brenton.

Communications units from Georgia and South Carolina have been activated to assist with the response.

Contributions designated to assist with the West Virginia Southern Baptist Disaster Relief effort may be sent to either the North American Mission Board, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, Ga., or to the West Virginia Baptist Convention, Number One Mission Way, Scott Depot, WV 25560.