By RACHEL C DOVE
DINGESS - “We were very blessed to not have suffered the devastation that Logan County experienced, but we still have residents that are suffering greatly,” said Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden, speaking about the terrible conditions the downpours and rapidly rising waters created on Thursday morning in the Dingess, East Fork of Twelve Pole and the Old County Road communities.
The commissioner was joined in his trips to the Dingess area by Mingo County Emergency Services Director Jarrod Fletcher, fellow commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith, Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks, West Virginia Delegate Justin Marcum and Magistrate Dallas Toler.
The officials spent the majority of Thursday and Friday visiting the flood damaged areas, assessing what could be done to alleviate problems brought on by the torrential downpours that dumped four inches of rain in approximately 30 minutes, according to information provided by the National Weather Service.
“The most heartbreaking fact of all is that most of the residents who were affected have no flood insurance,” said Fletcher. “It’s stressful enough to go through something like this without the added worry of how they can afford to start again.”
Fletcher is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to see what can be done for the flood victims, and expects to have an update early next week.
“There’s a certain criteria that has to be met before a county may receive assistance from FEMA,” said Fletcher. “The number of homes destroyed is somewhere in the range of 25 to 30, and the minimum of one million dollars’ worth of damage has to have occurred.”
According to Michael Spry, a supervisor with the Mingo County Department of Highways, his workers have most of the debris, mud and trees cleared from the roadway on the Mingo County side of the Dingess Mountain, and said they are now in the process of repairing shoulders that have washed out.
“We put in some long hours Thursday and Friday to try to get the roads cleared as quickly as possible,” said Spry. “The Logan side of that area is still in disarray, with some of the highways still impassable.”
“One of the sites that touched my heart the most was when we visited the home of Bill and Linda Fleming on the Old County Road,” said Baisden. “They both have physical disabilities and the bridge spanning the creek to their property has fallen in, the foundation to their home suffered extensive damage, they’ve got a lot of problems.
“We need to help this family and the rest of those who have issues that are too big to tackle by themselves.”
“Thankfully we got the tail end of the downpours that hit Logan,” said Fletcher. “If Dingess and Twelve Pole would have received the amount that Mud Fork did, we would have been looking at a very different situation.”
Fletcher said that although he does not have a definite total thus far on exactly how many Mingo County homes were damaged, he estimates those numbers to be between 40 and 50.
“There were probably at least 40 mud slides that came out of Thursday’s rain, and these were partially due to problems with clogged drains and also the fact that there hasn’t been any recent dredging of the ditches in that area,” said Fletcher.
Baisden told the Daily News that several inmates on the judge’s work program were utilized in the flooded communities on Friday, and according to the commissioner, accomplished a great deal. They will return to the area on Monday, weather allowing, completing some projects that were left undone.
“We’re praying that we don’t get any accumulation of rain to amount to anything over the weekend. With the grounds as drenched as they are right now they couldn’t absorb much more,” said the commissioner.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin toured portion of Logan County on Thursday, and members of the West Virginia Legislature met on Friday in an attempt to pass a bill that would allocate millions of dollars to assist the flood victims, and also those who were affected by the tornadoes earlier this month.
“Our goal is to act quickly to get this approved to help those in need,” said Marcum. “Our residents are in need, and it’s up to us to come to their aid.”