Flooding in SW Virginia: Another church damaged, help needed

Flooding in SW Virginia: Another church damaged, help needed

At least two feet of water stands in the clothes closet at Clintwood United Methodist Church in Clintwood, Virginia. Photo by Brian Baker

See bottom of story for short list on how to help.
ALCOA, Tenn. -- United Methodist pastors in Southwest Virginia are again rallying to help neighbors after heavy rainfall and severe flashfloods beginning July 27 covered parts of Dickenson and Wise Counties.

Yesterday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency to assist with response and recovery efforts in far southwest Virginia. No fatalities are reported in Virginia, but at least eight are reported dead in Eastern Kentucky following the same storm front.

In Clintwood, Virginia, the clothes closet of Clintwood United Methodist Church was flooded, creating a loss for the community. The Rev. Mark Huffine said 50 to 75 families are served by the clothing ministry each week.

“We have been the place where people come for help, and now we won’t have it to give,” Huffine said.

Other parts of the Clintwood church are safe. Sunday worship, Monday free lunch, and Wednesday dinner church can continue, Huffine said.

This week's flooding follows heavy rainfall and water damage in another part of Southwest Virginia -- Buchanan and Tazewell Counties -- earlier this month

The Rev. Beth Tipton, a disaster-response coordinator in Holston Conference, explained where this week's flooding occurred in a July 28 email to conference staff:

“People in Pound (Wise County) and Clintwood (Dickenson County) were most impacted,” Tipton said. “These are both in the Appalachian District. Coeburn and Wise (Wise County) have also experienced some flooding, but not to the extent of Pound and Clintwood.”
Tipton also reported that the Wesley Foundation at University of Virginia College at Wise had experienced water seepage into the building, but no damage. The college campus was closed on Thursday, July 28.
“The amount of rain that eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia received yesterday is just astronomical,” she said.
Mission leaders in Holston Conference immediately began to discern how to help. Earlier today, the Rev. Harry Howe, director of Project Crossroads, delivered a truckload of “cleaning kits” and “hygiene kits” to St. Paul, Virginia, to help residents begin the clean-up effort.
Harry Howe delivers relief kits to St. Paul, Va.

For church members who want to help, Tipton suggested donating money, assembling cleaning and hygiene kits, or joining a mission team to help Clintwood UMC.
“Listen to emergency managers and give what is asked for,” Tipton said in a social-media alert. “Random donations of items are overwhelming and many times can't be used.”
In addition to mission teams (to be organized by Tipton), Huffine requested a dumpster or a truck to haul away wet clothes and other items damaged by floodwaters in the lower floor of Clintwood UMC.
Huffine said he is currently struggling with his third bout of COVID-19 and needs help.
“I have an older congregation, like most Methodist churches, and we desperately need help to get that stuff out,” he said. Huffine estimated it will take two days to pump out water before the clothes closet and fellowship hall can be cleared and cleaned.

How to help

Give money: Holston Conference is accepting online donations at this link, designated for flood relief. You may also give to UMCOR.
Collect relief kits: Please follow UMCOR’s instructions for assembling "cleaning kits" and "hygiene kits." Then contact your district office for instructions on delivery and storage.
Offer hands-on help: Email the Rev. Beth Tipton to participate in clean-up efforts in Wise or Dickenson Counties.

Sign up for a free weekly subscription to The CallHolston Conference includes 842 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia. 


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.

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