Volunteers help clean and rebuild Richlands after floods

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RICHLANDS, VA (WVNS) — High waters left many water-damaged properties in the Richlands area, but before this community can rebuild there is a lot to be torn down.

Local organizations and relief teams rolled up their sleeves and got to work, supporting their neighbors in more ways than one.

Volunteers began tearing up floors and walls, and clearing out debris from a park that was submerged two weeks ago. It saw the highest water since 1978.

Tommy Wright, President of Southwest Virginia Community College, was there with a group of students clearing debris from a park.

“There were two or three small communities that were really impacted, but where we are would have been underwater,” Wright said.

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 nearly 100 volunteers from several local organizations began cleaning up and rebuilding their town, while bringing hope to the community.

Bob Williams is a team leader for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

“We bring hope to a community by first our physical presence,” said Williams. “This homeowner, as soon as he knew he was scheduled for today, you could hear over the phone he was being uplifted by somebody’s presence.”

Volunteers cleaned up the park fairly quickly, but cleaning out water damaged homes is a process. The disaster relief team identified 40 homes in the area that qualified for assistance.

They worked on home along the Clinch river that was flooded with three feet of water. They had to open the walls one foot above the water level and remove the insulation. This, along with the floors, will take the team about a day and a half.

“Besides the tearing out we will go back and clean and scrub the floors, and then we will apply a sanitizing solution that will kill bacteria, viruses and mold,” said Williams.

This kind of work could cost a family up to $20,000, but the relief team does it for free, and their service is invaluable.

“We bring hope through emotional solace,” Williams said. “We listen to the homeowner and hear his story of what happened, and that relieves some of the emotional burden by being able to tell it to us.”

Williams said it could take months before the water-damaged homes are ready to rebuild because the wood of the walls must dry out.

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