On June 23, 2016 three counties in our home state experienced severe flooding. This natural disaster damaged or destroyed more than 1,200 homes, leaving families devastated and without the means necessary to thrive. Aside from the material and emotional damage, this flood caused 23 confirmed fatalities. These people lost everything. The place they called home is now hell, but our hometown of Martinsburg has come together to make it "almost heaven" again.
I learned of the flooding while browsing through my Facebook news feed. I read countless articles and saw numerous pictures of the damage and devastation that was caused. I sat in complete disbelief that such a terrible thing happened to my beautiful home state. I feared for my family from Charelston, located in Kanawaha County, which is one of the areas affected. Simply put, my heart was breaking for all of those people. Just hours later, my hometown came together to offer a helping hand.
Travis Bishop, owner of Tannermans Trading Company, orchestrated a humanitarian mission by collecting and personally delivering donation items from the community. The amount of donations received in the first few hours was astounding. Travis and his crew immediately loaded up all of the items and traveled to Clendenin, WV to offer relief. While they were in the field of disaster, our community continued to generously donate. Some even followed suit and traveled to offer their assistance hands on, making trips back and forth to deliver the items that these people so desperately needed.
When I asked Travis about his experience, not once did he complain about the back and forth travel, the sleepless nights or the excruciating heat. His response was rather heartening. Travis said, "My highlight is meeting some very simple people who are very conservative and respectful to their fellow citizens. They are very mindful of others as we encourage to take plenty for each of the family members". He also added that they lived very modestly, not requiring much to live, and that he was a bit jealous of the simplicity of it all. "It truly makes you take a good look at yourself....This experience has been such a blessing to me and so many others. We've all shared stories, hugs, tears and encouragement".
My hometown has made me so very proud. This is the true definition of teamwork, dedication and selflessness. With people like this, southern West Virginia will be restored to it's former beauty.
Almost heaven, West Virginia