GALLIA COUNTY — With the recent floods leaving many homes in parts of West Virginia devastated, Gallia County citizens are gathering supplies and volunteer laborers to get West Virginians back on their feet.
Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter put out a call on social media over the weekend to see who would want to get involved in efforts to assist those effected by the floods in West Virginia. Rio Grande business owner Rhonda Pitchford, of Honey Creek Barbecue, and mountain biker and River City Fellowship Church member Chuck Angell, along with a slew of others answered the call.
“I was watching the news and saw the devastation,” Easter said. “I had originally saw the storm through but didn’t realize the destruction until two days later. They (West Virginians) are so close to us and my theory in life is help your neighbor as much as you can. I put on Facebook I was trying to organize something when Rhonda at Honey Creek said she had room to store supplies. That spawned a drop-off point. We put it on Facebook and it was shared upwards of 50 times. At that time, I was contacted by a buddy, Chuck Angell, who said he was leading a team to assist on (the upcoming Saturday morning) through River City Fellowship.”
Pitchford said she first saw the post while reading social media in church before offering the storage location at Honey Creek.
“It just snowballed from there,” she said. “We already had one load go down Monday. The (supplies) are going to a small town called Bergoo. That is in Webster County. I used to camp down there. The gentlemen (Daryl Roberts) that took stuff down Monday, he camped with us. He is a firefighter in Goshen, toward Cincinnati, and he came through and picked up stuff as he was heading down there.”
Pitchford said she was going to be loading up her own truck and trailer in the coming days to take down more supplies. Pitchford is unsure of how much has been collected at this point. When the Tribune spoke with her, she had collected from donors a stack of supplies as large as a man within 30 minutes.
Ice chests, buckets, dog food, cleaning supplies, canned food and more rest inside the storage facility to be taken for relief efforts.
Angell, a biking buddy of the mayor, approached his church members at River City Fellowship last Sunday morning. According to Angell, he has 15 individuals committed to working and helping clean flood-damaged areas in Richwood, W.Va. The town is on the Cherry River.
“Right outside of Richwood is the longest running triathlon in the state of West Virginia,” Angell said. “It’s called the Scenic Mountain Triathlon. There is a guy out there who was the race director called Jeremy Rose. We became (acquainted) through racing. We were Facebook friends and I could tell by his (feed) he was a really community-minded person. Well, when this (the flooding) happened and Rose started posting pictures and videos of the devastation there, this past Sunday morning I got up to run and contemplated about that. I knew people were donating items. Having grown up near that area and been through a few floods, a lot of times help is needed, like helping the elderly clean out houses.”
Angell approached his church members and gathered individuals after service who intend to go to Richwood to assist in cleanup efforts.
“By Monday, I had 15 people committing to go,” Angell said. “One couple is bringing heavy equipment.”
God’s Hands at Work in Vinton is also gathering supplies for the River City Fellowship effort. Irvin’s Glass Service on Eastern Avenue is also serving as a drop-off point for supplies.
Clothes are not being asked for at this time; however, rags, shovels, brooms as well as disinfectant wipes and products, pet food, children’s supplies, bottled water and First-Aid kits are requested.
Individuals can help by contacting River City Fellowship, dropping off supplies at Honey Creek Barbecue during business hours or Irvin’s Glass Service, or by visiting the Facebook pages of those involved.