BIG STONE GAP, Va. (Aug. 5, 2016) -- Neighbors in southwest Virginia are desperate for help, and the help isn’t coming.
Despite pleas for work teams to help repair home damage caused by a heavy snowfall in February 2015, only one team from Holston Conference has volunteered, said the Rev. Beth Tipton, disaster response coordinator for the Big Stone Gap District.
“As of today there are 17 homes that require volunteers for both outside (roofing, guttering) and inside (flooring, drywall, ceiling) work,” Tipton said on Aug. 5. “Ten homes have received funding and are ready to work on.”
The need is urgent, she said, “especially regarding making collapsed and damaged homes winter-ready before snow and cold arrive again this fall.”
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) began working in Holston Conference following the disaster event and continues to have a presence today, Tipton said. Through a $100,000 grant issued to Holston, UMCOR has provided personnel resources and direct assistance to victims of snow and ice in the Big Stone Gap area more than a year ago.
“The costs for recovery are well over $1 million,” she said. “More than $366,000 still needs to be raised in material costs alone. This includes the 17 homes needing volunteer labor, six completely destroyed homes that need to be replaced, and six homes that the scope of work is beyond that of skilled volunteers.”
Tipton said she was disappointed when she called churches for help and learned that they were instead waiting for the green light to serve flood victims in West Virginia.
“Please remember the families that continue to suffer in the aftermath of the winter weather. They have been suffering for more than a year now,” she said.
Contact Rev. Beth Tipton at (276) 328-6826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.