Mercury One recently spent some time touring WV flood zones to witness the devastation firsthand, and get a better understanding of how the organization can continue to coordinate disaster relief efforts effectively when unfortunate disasters, like these floods, strike. We are beyond grateful for the support from our donors, who contributed over $70,000 toward our $100,000 goal in supporting the efforts on the ground.
Here is an account from the first area we toured by our Disaster Relief Coordinator. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll continue to share efforts on this blog and on social media.
White Sulphur Springs is home to The Greenbrier Hotel which hosts a PGA Golf Tournament. With a fellow disaster relief staffer Roy, from Gleaning for the World, we were welcomed by Habibi Mamone who coordinates the PGA tournament for the hotel. When the flooding occurred, she quickly jumped in to take the official roll as disaster relief coordinator for The Greenbrier. Habibi drove me to where the drywall and other supplies M1 donated are being housed on the property. She also showed me the 5 homes in the White Sulphur Springs area The Greenbrier has adopted and will be handling all of the repairs. They plan to do more as they work through these first 5 homes. I am working with GFTW to have 1 of the 6 truckloads we are sending to WV go to Habibi at the Greenbrier to give her what she needs to complete the 5 homes.
Roy and I came upon an emotional moment on our walk; 2 women from Samaritans Purse were in prayer with a neighbor 2 doors down from where 4 homes moved off of their foundation by rushing water and collided, then caught fire. We spoke with him about whether or not he would rebuild. He said he wasn’t sure. White Sulphur Springs was his home and had worked for The Greenbrier for 32 years. He was now retired. There seemed to be many who were not sure they would rebuild and stay.
In the picture above of the wood-sided home, Roy told me the story of a family who pushed through the roofing shingles of their home on the backside to get out of the house due to rising waters. You see a rope hanging from the roof. The dad swam to the light pole across the dirt road to tie the other end creating a zip line for the family to get out safely.
White Sulphur Springs has a population of a little over 2,400 people. The Greenbrier employs 2,000 of them. There are employment opportunities here unlike in a few other areas hit hard by this disaster. Thanks to Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier, who immediately took in those in need and then reopened the Greenbrier for business to keep the economy moving.
This is the creek that overflowed causing the destruction to a mobile home park in White Sulphur Springs. It sits adjacent to what once was a very nice mobile home park. The owner has decided not to keep the property and sell it. These homes were condemned by FEMA but flood insurance was never a consideration. These residents are now homeless.
These are images of the mobile home park. I could see remnants of a community garden. There was debris everywhere that it was obvious it had come from somewhere else. The flood waters rose and moved so quickly that a portion of the road separated and sank.
One of the things I learned from Habibi at The Greenbrier is that Bubba Watson donated $250,000 to the Greenbrier to help get the property back in order and back in business. He and his wife also donated another $250,000 to Neighbors Loving Neighbors. This campaign, started by The Greenbrier, is collecting both food and cash to help the flood’s victims get back on their feet.