- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginians living in the counties hardest hit by the June floods are preparing for the long-term recovery process as state and federal relief programs begin winding down.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/2aIvtCA ) reports that officials in Greenbrier County have set up the Greater Greenbrier Long Term Recovery Committee, an organization designed to coordinate volunteer efforts from non-profits, private businesses and faith-based groups.

Kanawha and Clay counties have set up similar committees.

“After (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) exhausts all their resources and the state exhausts theirs, there is still going to be a need,” said Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, who has been helping counties set up the committees.

Officials say the purpose of the committees is to connect flood victims with people in the community who can help them.



“It allows us to bring groups together that are all doing great things and it allows us to spread resources rather than duplicate them,” said Gen. James Hoyer, the adjutant general of the National Guard.

If someone was able to get some funding from FEMA, but still needed help rebuilding, that person can reach out to West Virginia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, which would then reach out to the local recovery committee.

The committee could connect flood victims with a volunteer organization like Habitat for Humanity. If victims needed clothes or appliances, the committee could connect them with faith-based groups that made donations

Unger and Hoyer are trying to expand those long-term efforts in the other counties affected by the floods. In the upcoming weeks, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers and Webster counties will join Kanawha, Clay and Greenbrier in setting up committees.

“People are hungry for it,” Unger said. “And it has given them hope, given them a second wind.”

Hoyer said the committees can last long after the flood recovery is finished and can help towns reinvent themselves.

Unger is hoping the committees might allow people to learn from skilled laborers that come in, as a way of retraining people who are out of work.

“We’re looking at unemployed miners,” Unger said. “Reconnecting them in this effort so that we create jobs.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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