Heroin epidemic further complicates issues in flood zone

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Flood waters in West Virginia have ravaged the southern part of the state, claiming 22 lives from Jackson County in the west to Webster County in the east.

WHAG’s Carolyn Blackburne sat down with state senator, John Unger (D-Berkeley) who said even though even though it seems like flood waters have washed away nearly everything, it has not wiped the community clean of its drug problem.

“We can’t even imagine that here in the four-state area… because we just don’t have that type of poverty, the rural poverty that’s there, and the hidden poverty.”

Unger has been helping others in the flood zones for the past three weeks.

He said in Clay County, where 24 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, homeowners are wary to leave their homes so that volunteers can clean their houses. While homeowners are away, drug addicts have been looking to loot their only remaining possessions in exchange for drug money.

“They’re afraid that if they leave their home, that these folks will steal from them, and not out of state people that are on drugs, these are people in their own communities,” Unger said.

Since some homeowners refuse to leave, black mold is growing in their homes. The mold comes as a result of all the sewage, oil, and bacteria that is in the mud.

“There’s a lot of public education that we have to do…because people show up, ‘Can I clean your house?’ and they don’t know if they’re there to rob them or what, so there’s still a lot of work we have to do.”

In a situation as dire as this, there is one question that comes to mind: What can people here in the four-state region do to help?

“Well, the one thing I would encourage, if you’re able, is to set up a work team and go down and actually help these individuals,” Unger said.

But if you can’t physically make it down there, Unger said it is much better to send monetary donations because right now there is no where to store supplies, and more importantly….

“There are stores down there, and if people don’t buy from these stores, the stores will go out of business and that’s their employment.”

Unger said right now, flood victims need manpower to clean the muck and that those in the Wild and Wonderful State need to do wonders to save the southern part of it.

Officials estimate it will take about five years to restore the flood zones to its former state.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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