WVUMC Disaster Assistance Volunteers help victims of landslide in Hardy County

By Cheryl George

Case Manager Cheryl George, Amy Inskeep & Donna & Diana Hambleton picking out furniture at Dillon’s Furniture in Romney, WV

In June 2018, a landslide from heavy rain brought slate and shale from a bank across the road and down into the home and yard of Nancy Hambleton. This landslide filled the yard and driveway with an estimated 40 tons of shale, brought water and shale into the house and under the house, and knocked the house off its foundation. The floor structures were damaged and the electrical, water and sewer systems were interrupted. The heating lines were damaged and immediately had to be taken out of service. Ninety-one-year-old Nancy (who is living with dementia) and her daughters Diana and Donna were in a desperate situation because they did not have the money to recover…even to bring the heat or the septic system back up to safe working conditions.

Their caretaker, granddaughter Amy Inskeep, reached out to the county flood director who referred her to WV VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). VOAD reached out to the West Virginia United Methodist Disaster Assistance program. Local volunteers from Duffey United Methodist Church in Moorefield who had experience with home reconstruction came out to inspect the home.  Jim Oliver, who is a local Habitat for Humanity volunteer, went in under the home and found multiple foundation issues as well as other health and safety concerns. Ken Pack, who retired from Community Action, also walked through and helped the family to determine the damages. A volunteer case manager, Cheryl George, was assigned to help the family come up with a plan to restore healthy living conditions.

It was determined that the home was not able to be saved. In order to bring it up to code and into a safe habitat, it would take a considerable amount of money that was not available. Plans were developed to move a handicap-accessible mobile home onto another part of the property. Again, money became an issue. The family did not have the assets to borrow. The estimate to purchase the home, repair the electrical, sewer and water issues, and provide the handicap accessibility that would be necessary was $100,000. Even with volunteer help from Duffey UM Church, a local contractor doing the ground work, and Habitat for Humanity volunteers, the cost was out of reach.

During this time, Nancy fell and had some fractures that required surgery and limited her mobility even further. She agreed to be placed in a long-term care facility. This opened an opportunity for the two daughters to move to rent-assisted, low-income housing. With help from WV UMC Disaster Assistance and donations from United Methodist Churches in the Potomac Highlands District, the ladies and Donna’s faithful companion Abby moved into their new apartment on October 16, 2018. Baker’s Chapel United Methodist Church gave them a shower of household items, towels, sheets, dishes, and other items to make a house a home. Dillon’s Furniture delivered the furniture, set it up and placed it in the apartment for free, making a challenging day less stressful.

Because of the work of West Virginia United Methodist Church volunteers and contributions, this family is now living in safe, healthy conditions. This is another example of the church being the hands and feet of Jesus, and the important work of Disaster Ministries, not just in a big disaster but in those disasters that take away all safety and stability for individual families.

The Hambleton family has been overwhelmed with the love of the people who have worked to make this happen for them. “We didn’t know what we were going to do—it seemed impossible,” Amy Inskeep told the case manager. Even after the family moved in the apartment, the feeling of reality is taking some time to set in. The family wants to thank everyone who have worked to make this happen.

The community is also planning a benefit sing by the Potomac Valley Men’s Choir to help with a few months rent until the HUD assistance begins. If you would like to help this family, you may donate through the WVUMC Flood #924 and mark Hardy County Disaster.