After Devastating West Virginia Floods, Neighbors Help Neighbors, but Volunteers Still Needed

Posted Aug. 24, 2016

MP3 Interview with Pamela Roush and Sharry Mullins, coordinators of flood relief efforts in Clendenin, West Virginia, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

flood

According to the Red Cross, the flood devastating Louisiana is now the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the Red Cross. The flood triggered by 31 inches of rain that fell in 15 hours, has killed 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes. An earlier flood that inundated West Virginia after ten inches of rain fell on June 23, killed 26 people, damaged hundreds of homes and washed out bridges, further isolating rural communities.

In the small town of Clendenin, 20 miles northeast of West Virginia's capital, Charleston, the water in the Elk River set a record at 33 feet, flooding the basements and first floors of many homes. Two months after the storm, many local residents complain about the slow recovery. During the first few weeks after the flood, hundreds of volunteers came to help, but the disaster soon faded from the headlines and the number of volunteers dwindled. But the need for help continues, even as more widespread flooding in Louisiana has been the focus of news coverage motivating volunteers to rush there to help.

Climate scientists are getting closer to being able to connect certain weather disasters to climate change. The easiest connection to make is with more frequent heat waves. But flooding – measured in rainfall – has also been linked to global warming as rising air temperatures can hold more moisture. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus, who visited the area recently, spoke with two local women who helped coordinate their own disaster relief program in Clendenin, connecting volunteers to homeowners or churches in need of help. We first hear from Pamela Roush, followed by her sister-in-law, Sharry Mullins.

Learn more about the effort to incorporate climate justice reforms into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by visiting RAMPS | Radical Action for Mountains' and People's Survival at rampscampaign.org.

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