RAINELLE, W.Va. — A ceremony has marked the completion of the first home built by a Tennessee-based group for victims of flood-ravaged Rainelle.
Media outlets report the group Appalachia Service Project dedicated the fully furnished home Friday for Russ and Becky Gilkeson.
It is part of the group’s plan to build at least 50 homes in Rainelle and fix others in need of repairs.
The home is on the same lot where the Gilkeson’s former home was located.
“It puts us back into a realm of normalcy, which we had before the flood,” Russ Gilkeson said. “After that it was here, there, everywhere.”
Becky Gilkeson said she looked forward to eating at her dinner table again “because we were not able to do that. It’s just family. Just being able to be back as a family. Having a routine again.”
The June 23 floods killed 23 people statewide and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure. Five people died in Rainelle.
Johnson City, Tennessee-based Appalachia Service Project is a Christian ministry dedicated to repairing homes for low-income families. Several area businesses are donating materials for the Rainelle project and several nonprofit groups have given financial support. Volunteers assisting with the legwork on the project include church groups from multiple states along with students from West Virginia University, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
“Rainelle was washed away on June 23 by a flood,” Mayor Andy Pendleton told the crowd. “Today is a new beginning. Rainelle is Noah’s Ark.”
Eric Lee Boggs, a former resident of nearby Rupert, presented a check for nearly $12,000 to Appalachia Service Project President and CEO Walter Crouch for the Rainelle construction efforts. Boggs said the funds were from a three-day concert he helped organize and from a motorcycle ride put together by friends.