Saturday, August 27, 2016

Handiness with tools and physical self-reliance seems to tide over West Virginia home owners after summer floods

I finally visited the flood area along Rt 39 (and some areas to the north) in southern West Virginia Friday (I had already visited White Sulphur Springs on July 12).

Most of the town of Richwood was in decent shape, “functionable”.  Much of the city is high enough to have escaped the floods, but businesses and homes near the creek had been inundated.  The local Dairy Queen is on the flood area but was closed only three days.  I disagree with the “nosiness” idea that I encountered before;  visitors can help small business owners just by stopping and spending money, at least on meals. Normal capitalism.

North toward Birch River, Cown and Camden there was some more obvious damage.  I mistook a country road for SR 82 and drove into an abyss.  People live, apparently off the grid, along the streams of these roads, which had lots of damage, washed out shoulders, and brush.  It appeared that the people living in this area are much handier with tools and fixing homes themselves than city people – they have to be – and some people were still working on their homes, perhaps with no flood insurance but able to do all the work themselves without contractors.   Pickup trucks filled with tools, sheetrock, insulation were common.  Truckloads of city volunteers would simply have gotten in the way.  These folk don’t need Hillary Clinton to save them.

I did notice that two homes had been demolished, and one slid off its foundation, on a steep bank above Richwood.  This appeared to be due to landslide, not flood.   I understand that standard homeowner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover mudslide or landslides or earth movement (source ).  This can affect mountainous areas.  People can be at risk from mudslides from rain events without living in flood areas.  There have been major incidents on the West Coast.

No question, a warming world is going to make us ponder how we will pay for additional disasters, often befalling lower income people in rural areas, although often these people are much handier than the rest of us.

After the 2011 earthquake in Virginia, I think I spent about $900 out of pocket on minor damage (northern Virginia)– chimney and a couple of electrical problems.

I understand Ellicott City, MD, will not open to the public until Sept. 12 at the earliest.  

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