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Appalachian Service Project volunteers work to repair homes in Clay County

Volunteers with the Appalachian Service Project work to repair a home in Widen Thursday afternoon. (WCHS/WVAH)

Widen homeowner Darlene Jackson didn't seem to mind her backyard being turned into a work zone this week. The Appalachian Service Project volunteers set up shop to repair her home in her own backyard.

"They just showed up, and here they are," Jackson said. "They are such a blessing."

Jackson had water issues after the 2016 flood, and dealt with standing flood water rising near her home. Jackson tells Eyewitness News the 2016 flood was the worst flood she has seen in the area.

She made countless calls to "Rise West Virginia;" the $150 million dollar federally funded flood relief program. She said she never received answers from any state officials after the flood.

"Rise West Virginia never came out to do anything. Then when I tried to call again, I could never get a hold of them," Jackson said.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance met Thursday morning to get a closer look at flood recovery concerns, including odd spending and having several no-shows by state employees in former meetings.

While lawmakers met to probe the problems with Rise, volunteers with the Appalachian Service Project got to work. The non-profit organization is currently working in Clay County over a span of 5 weeks. They plan to repair at least 15 houses in their stay here.

"They are just a blessing," Jackson said. "They are a blessing in more ways than building. Their personalities show love. They have compassion."

Volunteer Coordinator with the Appalachian Service Project Korie Dean said while the group does many projects for families in the Appalachian region, the volunteers get just as much in return from the families in need.

"My favorite part of this is our homeowners," Dean said. "They are absolutely incredible people. It's awesome that they let us into their space for a summer so we can do this for them. They do just as much for us. Our homeowners are always cooking for us, and just pouring into our volunteers over the summer. We are so thankful for them."

In just a few weeks, the ASP volunteers replaced siding and finished underpinning to prevent water from flooding Jackson's home in Widen. Volunteer from Fredericksburg, VA, McKayla Stapleton said she's happy to make life easier for many families in the Appalachian Region.

"It's not just me. It is also the work of groups before and groups after," Stapleton said. "We're making life safer, warmer and dryer for each one of these homeowners every year."

Darlene Jackson tells Eyewitness News many flood victims would not have received any help if it weren't for the countless volunteers who have helped them recover.

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