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Clay County woman waiting for RISE West Virginia’s help two years after flood

Families across West Virginia are still waiting for help from RISE West Virginia, the group created by the Department of Commerce to help replace homes lost in the June 2016 flood. (WCHS/WVAH)

Families across West Virginia are still waiting for help from RISE West Virginia, the group created by the Department of Commerce to help replace homes lost in the June 2016 flood.

Nearly two years ago, Pam Street’s home in Clay County was completely covered by floodwater. The Eyewitness News iTeam has learned that since then she has been waiting for a phone call, hoping someone will tell her that she can go home, but she said with every letdown, she is starting to wonder if that call will ever come.

"Even though the river took everything I own, I just love the river,” Street said.

For 15 years, the Elk River was Street’s back porch view.

"Some people think I'm crazy for wanting to come back here after I got flooded out,” Street said.

But going back has been her goal since June 2016 when her home was swept off its foundation.

“My house was right there,” Street said, pointing to an empty grassy area next to the river. “And the river went right over top of it. It moved it completely around – 50 yards – and crashed into that tree over there.”

Street said she remembers the few minutes she had to get herself and her brother, who she cares for, out of the house safely.

"Had to get his food and his medicine out of there and it's pouring down rain,” Street said.

With no home to return to the next morning, her brother had to move into a full-time care facility.

Street now has to start all over.

"I filled out an application for RISE at the Clendenin Middle School,” Street said.

Street said she finally heard from a RISE West Virginia case worker in April 2017, but now, more than a year later, she is still waiting for help.

"I’ve had five different RISE case managers. Everyone told me conflicting stories on my eligibility, what proof I needed, it's just been a nightmare, and now I do not know. I do not know where I stand,” Street said.

Street said each promise is getting harder to believe.

"One case manager told me I would be in a place by this summer, and I doubt that," she said.

Nearly two years after the flood, Street said she is done grieving the loss of her home, but losing the memories is what continues to hurt.

"The house is one thing, the furniture, who cares. But all the kids’ stuff, their baby clothes and my mom’s stuff,” Street said.

And then there are the visits from her grandchildren.

“I don’t have any room in my little trailer for them to play or stay,” Street said.

Now, all she can do is wait.

"I've been living on hopes for two years, agency after agency, promises and none of them come through, for reason unknown, but I really had high hopes for RISE. I really had high hopes thinking that this was going to be it, but I don't know anymore. I don't know,” Street said.

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and several other delegates and senators have expressed their concerns about RISE West Virginia. Armstead said he is trying to find out why so many people have been left in these tough situations.

"We want to try to help them in any way that we can, we know that's a very frustrating situation, and that's really our first priority in this entire situation, we want to get answers and we want to get to the bottom of what took place, but first and foremost we want to get that money out to those people who need it and get them back in their homes,” Armstead said.

Armstead said flood victims waiting for assistance can call his office or the representative of their district to get them closer to the help for which they have been waiting.


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