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Flood relief efforts to continue despite Kanawha recovery committee's plans to close

Rainy nights like Thursday are still difficult for victims of the 2016 historic flooding that swept across the state killing 23 people and destroying hundreds of homes across several counties. (WCHS/WVAH)

Rainy nights like Thursday are still difficult for victims of the 2016 historic flooding that swept across the state killing 23 people and destroying hundreds of homes across several counties.

Saturday will mark the two-year anniversary, and still, many people are in desperate need of help.

Even though the list of needs is still long, the Greater Kanawha Long-Term Recovery Committee is running out of money and will soon close, and with many families still waiting on the help they were promised by RISE West Virginia, the recovery committee doesn't intend for its recovery efforts to stop when the funding does.

The funding is running out and donations, which were a huge factor in the committee's work, have slowed down but the needs are still there.

It’s a subtle reminder of the most destructive rain to hit the town of Clendenin.

"After the flood, you had masses of people who needed help, so you tried to qualify the ones in greatest need first and you would get them to the point where they could function in the house, the house was function,” Greater Kanawha Long-Term Recovery Committee member Susan Jack said.

The initial wave of volunteers naturally gravitated to the low-income, the elderly and people with disabilities. Jack said that's the way it should be, but eventually those efforts slowed.

"I just can't imagine being out of your home this long,” Jack said.

Dan McDowell is a volunteer from Columbus, Ohio who is working in Clendenin on a home he remembers. He said it is not in much better shape than it was during his first visit one year after the flood.

"We were kind of surprised when we come back and we would have assumed she would have long moved in and been done,” McDowell said.

The homeowner sought help from RISE West Virginia, but like many others, never heard back.

"All I knew is that we have an elderly lady with health issues, we need to go and get her taken care of so that's what we did,” McDowell said.

Working based on people's needs with the funding they were given but in next several weeks that money will run out.

"We've been working off of that money for two years now for almost two years and really that's pretty good, that's a pretty good run,” McDowell said.

But Jack said between the families who are on the committee's list and the families who just missed the qualifications for RISE and are still struggling, the work can't stop.

"We've been approached by an international faith-based organization that is now going to be teaming with us, it's kind of a transition,” Jack said.

Praying Pelican Mission will now hold a permanent role in flood recovery. In Kanawha County, Jack said the organization has committed to return each summer until the work is done.

"We're going to keep doing what we've been doing from day one. There are a lot of people who have fallen through the cracks on being able to get assistance whether it was with rise or any other program out there. There's a lot of people who have fallen through the cracks and still have needs,” Jack said.

Praying Pelican Missions will be housed in the former Clendenin Church of God which has been out of use since the flood. Jack said the volunteers will be a mix of youth and skilled workers.

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