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Two Weeks Later, Clay County Shifting from Distribution to Rebuilding

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Ashton Marra
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
A pile of debris sits off the Wallback exit of I-79 just across the Clay County line.

While the initial disaster response was focused on Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Nicholas counties, it wasn’t long before state officials realized the damage was more widespread.

 

In Clay County, much like the rest of the region, the storms hit Thursday. On Friday, the county got its first shipment of water and National Guard troops, but after that, they were left without much state aid until Saturday afternoon.

As donations began pouring in, the first distribution center was established at Clay County High School.

“Some things were coming in so fast and people were coming in to take that the traffic was getting jammed up I think over the weekend and last week,” Andy Feeney from Charleston said Wednesday. He spent the weekend and beginning part of the week volunteering at the site, passing out supplies.

Feeney stood among stacks of personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies and cases of water, but few people showed up to actually collect and, according to county officials, while there are still many people who need the items, distribution is starting to slow in many areas.

“We’re definitely out of what I consider the care for the people," Clay County Commission President Gary Fitzwater said, :where we had to provide them food and water."

 

"We’re trying to get things back to normal, where we’re not having to tie people up to hand out stuff and [can] let them switch over to help cleaning up and remodeling or starting the remodeling part of it.”

 

Now that immediate needs like food and water have been taken care of, Fitzwater said Clay is focusing on a couple areas.

 

Thursday, he’ll work to hire a contractor to start clearing trash piles made up of tons of debris from homes. FEMA will pay for that clean-up.

 

Then, it’s on to repairing and rebuilding the $8.5 million worth of damage to Clay County’s roads and bridges. That money, Fitzwater said, will also have to come from federal and state aid.

 

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.

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