Beckley, WV -- Lynn Collette's Welch home rested uneasily in 16 feet of water this last May; another seven feet of water had visited her last year. Since then, she and her family of five have been getting-by, staying in a motel in Princeton. They were greatly relieved to meet with Gov. Wise this afternoon. He gave them keys to a mobile home in Premier where she and her family can finally call home.
"I feel most fortunate to be among the first in line," Lynn said. "FEMA and the Red Cross have really made a big difference. It's been tough commuting every day between the Welch area and Princeton. Getting this mobile home is the best thing that has happened for our family since the flood."
Just two months after the floods, federal and state disaster recovery officials pooled their resources, cleared land and installed a 54-unit mobile-home park in Premier. The West Virginia Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened this $1 million dollar plus oasis of flood recovery today.
Laura Vaughn of Hemphill was the first person 'leased in' at the group mobile home park. Quickly officials at the opening ceremony began referring to her as 'Mom' Vaughn and then Gov. Wise promptly designated her as 'Super Mom' for the first mobile home group site for displaced flood survivors.
While trying out the keys of her new home, Jennifer Baily of Welch said: "The flooding caused economic hardship for me, but I will adjust. For the kids, however, losing their toys and the familiar surroundings of our home, that was really tough."
The Governor reminded Jennifer that she was now out of the floodplain. Jennifer responded: "I'm grateful from the bottom of my heart."
Depending on need, the site may be expanded to accommodate as many as 106 units. Currently there are 80 families who are in line to move into the facility. Applicants are being given the keys at half-hour intervals.
Seventeen mobile homes have already been set up and in record time in Premier. Just in time for flood recovery applicants to meet with the governor and move in today.
Since the disaster, finding adequate housing for flooded residents has been the number one priority for FEMA and the state. More than 4,600 homes were damaged or destroyed in May and many people needed housing assistance. The mobile home site at Premier is a welcome enhancement to the flood recovery effort.
This temporary housing gives persons recovering from the flood a stable living environment while they make long-range decisions about their housing needs. These units are available rent-free. Individuals may stay at the Premier site for as long as 18 months from the date of the disaster declaration while repairs are underway to their destroyed or damaged homes.