Students and Alumni Bring Relief to West Virginia Disaster

Students and Alumni Bring Relief to West Virginia Disaster

Students and Alumni Bring Relief to West Virginia Disaster

The OCU Disaster Relief and Management program is bringing relief to West Virginia residents who were left without usable water after chemicals spilled into a river Thursday, January 9, 2014.* Supplies of local stores were quickly exhausted as residents of nine counties were warned not to drink or bathe in their running water. After six days, restrictions are being lifted in some areas, but many people are desperate and will not have water for several more days.

Professor Sean Lovell, Director of OCU's Disaster Management and Criminal Justice programs, was accompanied by Disaster Management students, Caitlyn Randolph, Meagan Miller and Dustin Hube. The team traveled in OCU's recently donated disaster response vehicle to Grace Methodist Church in Gallipolis, Ohio, to connect with Pastor Daniel Fulton, a former OCU student, and volunteers from Middleport Nazarene Church. Upon arrival, Professor Lovell was greeted by OCU Alumnus, Rick Cessna, whose brother Mike Cessna is a well known mobile mechanic in Circleville, and the Missions Coordinator for Grace Methodist Church. When Pastor Daniel Fulton arrived with his group, they loaded additional cases of water in their U-Haul truck. After prayer, the groups departed to Hamlin, West Virginia. 

The disaster relief team arrived in Hamlin, WV, at approximately 11:30am and met with Bob Fulton, Chaplain for the Hamlin Police Department and coordinator for the relief efforts. The distribution center for citizens of Hamlin was located at the Hamlin Fire Department Station 400. When they arrived at Station 400, they were introduced to Chief Kidd of the Hamlin Fire Department and some of the volunteers assisting at the station. Volunteers worked alongside the OCU group to unload a total of 3 skids of water (approximately 4300-4800 bottles) and other needed supplies. Then Caitlyn, Meagan and Dustin helped load those items into Hamlin residents’ vehicles as they arrived at the station. Each family received at least 4 cases of water and some other hygiene items as they pulled up to the station.

Professor Lovell shared, "We were there only a short time, but I speak for our entire group when I say that it was great to be able to help those residents of Hamlin and I’m quite sure they were appreciative of the work and supplies being provided to them by local groups and churches as well as groups such as ours from across state lines. We had a small group of people, but we made a big impact."

Hamlin is located in a rural area southwest of Charleston, and has a population of approximately 1200 residents. There were approximately 300,000 residents of the Charleston area that were affected by this disaster event. More than 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from a one-inch hole in a holding tank located at a storage facility owned by Freedom Industries Inc. In speaking with Bob Fulton, Lovell learned that Hamlin will be one of the last regions to get their water back.

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