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Flood victims getting new homes

Construction of Doug Wilson’s new home at 293 Dry Creek Road is under way, with four more homes planned to be finished before the end of the year.
“We have 63 days to get these five houses up before Christmas,” said Walter Crouch, president and CEO of Appalachia Service Project.
The first shovels of dirt for Wilson’s home were turned during a dedication ceremony Oct. 23. An Appalachia Service Project truck and stacks of cinder blocks indicated the framing would begin soon.
“Walter contacted me the day after the flood and asked, how can we help?” Mayor Dan Eldridge said.
ASP is coordinating construction for almost 50 homes that were destroyed during the August flood.
Almost $300,000 already received in cash donations will be used to secure building materials.
“The bigger thing is to see everyone coming together and not worrying about the blurring of (organizational) lines,” Crouch said.
A number of relief organizations, churches, and homebuilders responded to the crisis and continue to be involved in the recovery. In addition, county commissioners waived the building permit fees for flood victims and allocated dollars from the General Fund for the creek cleanup.
Local builder Ron Gouge has recruited a team of licensed contractors who will manage the projects.
Crouch also recognized the many volunteers who have stepped forward to pour their sweat equity into helping their neighbors. “Are we our neighbors’ keeper? Yes,” he said.
Crouch said Wilson’s home at 293 Dry Creek Road literally “floated away” during the flood, and his will be the first one rebuilt. The pattern for the new 24-by-36 houses includes three bedrooms and one bath, with a living room in the middle and a kitchen at the rear.
“I think it will be nice,” said Wilson, who is happy to be rebuilding on the same site.
“This house had a lot of history,” he said, referring to his years of growing up with eight brothers and three sisters. A brother and nephew lived with him at the time of the flood and will be returning when construction is completed.
The new homes will be built at the required minimum elevation of 3 feet above the ground, though Wilson said the front of his house was sitting at the level prior to the flood. “There was just so much water,” he said.
Crouch referred to the county mayor as being the coach for the recovery effort, though Eldridge said the tremendous response is the result of communicating a specific need and a specific opportunity to get involved.
“When is the last time you heard of contractors, who have experienced the worst economy in years and are trying to survive, being willing to step up and help people they don’t know?” he asked.
But rebuilding the destroyed homes is only the first step, according to Crouch who reminded the crowd at the dedication that many also lost their furniture and clothing. “There is a need for additional help,” he said.
Commission Chair Greg Matherly said a concerted effort was made to bring people together to provide assistance. “We’ve come a long way to get to today, but we have a lot farther to go,” he said.