Rebuilding process following 2016 floods not possible without volunteers


RAINELLE, WV (WVNS)– As we approach the 5 year anniversary of the Thousand Year Flood, we are reflecting back on the volunteers who helped rebuild communities in Greenbrier County.

June 23, 2016 was a day that devastated many West Virginians. The thousand year flood hit Greenbrier County, dropping eight to 10 inches of rain in less than 12 hours, wiping out many homes and businesses. Walter Crouch is the President and CEO of Appalachia Service Project. He said he knew it was their mission to help in the rebuilding process.

“Having the relationship with Rainelle already and working in that town a couple years before. We just felt obligated to help if we could with flood recovery,” Crouch said.

Appalachia Service Project is known for their repair and rebuilding efforts. Crouch said their work in 2016 was their biggest recovery effort yet. When the floods hit, his volunteers were already in Greenbrier County, and saw the damage first hand.

“We actually had a summer center doing repair work for low income families in Rainelle, West Virginia when the floods hit. So, we had people in the field when the floods hit. A couple of groups that could not make it back to the center, had to spend the night in the homes that they were working in,” Crouch said.

Crouch said the other groups that couldn’t make it back had to sleep in the pews of churches or even on the floor. It didn’t take long before Appalachia Service Project jumped into action.

“We started out very modestly, we thought we might build four homes before we were finished, we built 78 new homes and did 31 major repairs and we extended beyond Greenbrier County as well we also did work in Nicholas County, Fayette County, and Kanawha County around the Charleston, aera” Crouch stated.

All the homes the service project built came at no cost to the home owners, and are mortgage free. He said all of this work would not have been possible without the help of partnerships from various charitable organizations.

“So it became a good experience over a couple of years golly we raise an excessive $4 million to build those homes,” Crouch continued.

They are still working in and around Greenbrier County. The work of Crouch’s volunteers really made a difference in the communities.

“Without the volunteers it wouldn’t have happened and without the volunteers we would probably be only able to build maybe a little over half, maybe 30- to 40 homes other than 78 homes, and that is what the volunteers did for us. There is nothing better than a volunteer,” Crouch said.

Rebuilding a community one volunteer at a time.

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