Denver donates heavy equipment to aid in Richwood’s flood rebuilding effort

Denver donates heavy equipment to aid in Richwood’s flood rebuilding effort

A dump truck and a small skid steer loader donated by the City of Denver to the flood-battered Nicholas County town of Richwood completed the last leg of a 1,500-mile road trip on Monday, and soon will be put to use continuing clean-up and rebuilding work that remains to be done following record rainfall late last June.

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a phenomenal amount of work still to be done,” said Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber, who met the two-vehicle convoy hauling the heavy equipment from Colorado to West Virginia at Interstate 79’s Elkview interchange on Monday. “It’s great that a big-city mayor was willing to step up to reach out and help us. But this is one of many acts of kindness and generosity that have happened since the flood to help put us on our way to becoming the state’s comeback town.”

Following an immediate response to the flood by state, federal and nonprofit disaster assistance agencies, volunteer groups from across the nation spent a week each doing home repair work during a 10-week effort organized by Richwood Rebuilds, while Neighbors Loving Neighbors, founded by Gov.-elect Jim Justice, helped rebuild Richwood High School gym. The town received donated shipments of lumber, beds and bedding, HVAC equipment and other rebuilding supplies and is targeted to receive some of the portable tiny homes being built by students at the state’s vocational and technical schools.

Denver’s used heavy equipment donation, valued at about $50,000, came about after Baber attended a Kellogg Fellowship Leadership Alliance conference in Denver three months after his town was flooded. Baber was named a W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow in the 1990s, after overseeing Concord University’s Bonner Scholars program for several years. Among the conference speakers was Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who Baber approached after his talk to ask if his city had any heavy equipment to spare to help Richwood recover from the flood.

As it turned out, the Colorado city did have some spare gear on its hands, and offered it to the West Virginia city for a nominal fee. “The Kellogg organization helped fund transportation costs for getting the equipment from Denver to Richwood”, Baber said.

While Richwood received millions of dollars in damage from the flood, it also is getting its decrepit sewer system and several streets and roads replaced, through a federal funding program.

“We will get a new sewer system and new roads to help get us moving forward again,” Baber said. “While we started out as the underdog, I think we are going to come back and come back stronger than ever.”

This article was written on January 9, 2017, by Charleston Gazette-Mail staff writer Rick Steelhammer, and is reprinted by permission of the Charleston Gazette-Mail. You can reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on twitter.

 

 

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