In the days and weeks following the floods that devastated parts of our state one month ago, it is inspiring to see West Virginians banding together to support friends, family and neighbors as the long road to recovery continues.
More than 4,500 individual citizens have requested volunteer opportunity information through Volunteer West Virginia, to offer their time to neighbors and communities. And countless volunteers, charitable organizations and corporations have poured into our state from across the country, helping West Virginians rebuild their homes and lives.
Our communities are leading the way, with citizen volunteers providing leadership, guidance and support for the families impacted by these floods. Our local firefighters, police officers and National Guard members were among the first to put their own lives in danger to help others in the first hours of the flooding — in some cases, leaving their own homes to flood. From the businesses that have donated time, money or resources to recovery efforts, to the students, families, faith-based communities and unsung heroes near and far, I thank you.
Volunteer programs, like the Red Cross, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, and disaster relief agencies, including Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, are working with local, state and federal officials, community organizers, students and dedicated citizens to ensure those impacted by flooding have access to the resources they need.
Truckloads of donated supplies have been flowing into our state from across the country, and VOAD has been working hand-in-hand with state and local officials to ensure supplies are reaching our communities in need. These emerging community networks are accomplishing great things, and because of the efforts of organizations like Volunteer West Virginia and VOAD, we will rebuild stronger, more connected communities.
Some of our most famous West Virginians have answered the call for help. I was pleased to join country music star Brad Paisley in thanking volunteers working in Clendenin. I also joined actress Jennifer Garner, a proud Charleston native, as she raised funds for Herbert Hoover High School students to ensure they can have the facilities, equipment and technology they need to continue thriving in both academics and extracurricular activities.
Though we have come a long way since the floodwaters receded, there is still much work to be done. Over the past few weeks, our communities have grown closer, reconnecting with neighbors and reaching out to strangers to work together toward rebuilding.
A few weeks ago, I heard a story about a crew of volunteers who visited a 92-year-old veteran to help him clean up after flooding devastated his home. His American flag was torn down by the raging waters, so volunteers secured a new flag and returned to his home the next day to replace it. The veteran declined the flag, and told volunteers, “My neighbor lost his flag and may not have as much help as I do. Please take this one to him.”
This story, and many more like it, reminds us all what it means to be West Virginians.
For those interested in helping our communities rebuild, visit WVFLOOD.com, the state’s official flood resource site.
Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, is the governor of West Virginia.