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Local family lends helping hand to West Virginina flood victims

A local family has taken it upon themselves to try to make a difference.

Jennifer and Frank Mullens Jr., of Deering, have organized a flood relief drive for victims in West Virginia counties hit hardest by flooding.

&uot;I hadn’t felt like I was doing enough in church, so I prayed, and this is what came to me,&uot; Frank Mullens said. &uot;Several churches in Ironton and Coal Grove are working together.&uot;

The relief effort has received aid from churches of several different denominations including St. Joseph, St. Lawrence O’Toole,

the Church of Christ of Ironton, Community Missionary Baptist of Deering and Zoar Baptist of Coal Grove.

&uot;The worst part about it is people think [these counties] are a long way off,&uot; he said. &uot;Many people act like it is another country.&uot;

&uot;You never know when it might happen to us and we might need help,&uot; Mullens said. &uot;Many people lost everything last summer. Now, this is the second flood in a year.&uot;

Mullens contacted The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety’s Office of Emergency Services and offered his help. Among the items needed are cash donations, bottled water, all types of cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items.

&uot;Downtown Welch, in McDowell County, was pretty much wiped out,&uot; Lee Gray, director of administration for the Office of Emergency Services, said. &uot;The water was three or four feet high.

&uot;Overall, the damage was not as bad as last year, except for McDowell County,&uot; Gray said. &uot;McDowell was hit worse this time.&uot;

All of Main Street in Welch was devastated. The library lost all of its books and city hall was seriously damaged. FEMA has estimated that thousands of homes were affected by flooding, Gray said.

The Mullens family has arranged for monetary drop-offs at National City Bank in Coal Grove and other donations at Bob Clyse Oldsmobile-Pontiac-GMC Inc. and McCauley Furniture.

Checks should be made out to volunteerWV.

&uot;I have a 24-foot enclosed car trailer. The goal is to get it as close to full as we can,&uot; Mullens said.

On Sunday, all donations will be accepted at St. Joseph Church between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.. Mullens will deliver the donations to Charleston Monday and the Office of Emergency Services will distribute them to the areas in need, like McDowell and Wyoming Counties.

&uot;If people like Frank do not take the initiative, it probably wouldn’t happen,&uot; Thomas Nau, reverend at St. Joseph, said. &uot;Initially, the response has been good.&uot;

Mullens said he has family in Welch, but they were not affected by the floods.

&uot;You fall into a routine on Sundays. I felt like I was missing something,&uot; Mullens said. &uot;So my wife and I decided to do something.&uot;

Gray and the Office of Emergency Services appreciates all the support they have received from private groups and citizens.

&uot;I can’t express enough how important public outreach is,&uot; he said. &uot;Without them it could not be done.&uot; Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune