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Flood cleanup progressing in Roane County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As Roane County continues to dry out from flooding earlier this month, the cleanup efforts continue.

Though the National Guard has packed up, other organizations like the American Red Cross are still helping residents get rid of the mess the water left behind.

"We still have a lot of displaced families," Roane County Emergency Services Director Melissa Gilbert said.

On June 13, Roane County was hammered by thunderstorms that dumped 2.8 inches of rain in the Spencer and Looneyville areas from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to National Weather Service data. At least 1.5 inches of that rain fell in a period of an hour, causing waterways like Spring Creek, which runs through Spencer, to come over their banks.

Gilbert said that no residents are left at a shelter set up at the National Guard armory in Spencer, but many are still staying with friends and relatives nearby or at area hotels.

"We now have some people that are still getting things out of their homes," she said.

At the Marquette Manor senior apartment building in Spencer, all of the tenants are currently in alternative housing options. City of Spencer Housing Authority Director Wally Board said that seven tenants are in apartments in other buildings that the authority owns, and six are staying with their families.

Marquette Manor needs to be gutted as a result of the flood, and the housing authority has coordinated the removal of all fixtures and damaged furniture in the building. New walls, kitchens, bathrooms and flooring will all be installed to make sure that no mold or mildew is left inside.

"We're clear down to nothing," Board said of what remains of the building's interior.

After the flood, three residents died at other apartments the housing authority owns, allowing Marquette Manor's displaced tenants to move into those open rentals. Board said that the families of the deceased residents realized the need to have apartments open in light of the flood, and helped move their relatives' furniture out quickly. Appalachian Outreach, a Glen Dale-based charity, provided quality used furniture to Marquette Manor residents who lost their original pieces.

Marquette Manor is expected to re-open in about a month, and Board said that all tenants will return once repairs are complete. Most of the work will be covered by the authority's flood insurance policy.

Bob Ashley, a state delegate representing the area and an insurance agent in Spencer, said that he thinks the cleanup has "progressed really well," despite the worst flooding he's seen in his life in Spencer.

"It's a brighter day in Spencer," he said.

Ashley praised the National Guard and the several volunteer organizations that came to assist in the cleanup.

"You just can't put a value on what they did," he said.

As an insurance agent, Ashley said that he hasn't had that many flood insurance claims, and that many residents don't have that type of insurance. To make matters worse for some residents, the Federal Emergency Management Agency won't provide assistance to some homeowners whose buildings weren't damaged enough to qualify for funding.

For some in Roane County, flooding wasn't previously a concern because residents had never experienced flooding like the event earlier this month, Ashley said.

"I've had people in their 80s and 90s . . . who've never had water in their house (before the flood)," he said.

The Red Cross is continuing to work in Roane County, and spokeswoman Krista Farley said that the organization is working with affected residents on a case-by-case basis.

Farley said that the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers, and interested persons can sign up online at

Contact writer Matt Murphy at or 304-348-4817.

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