Area residents working to aid West Virginia flood victims

Penny Shipe, secretary of Toms Brook Volunteer Fire Department, inventories a box of blankets that were donated for West Virginia flood victims inside the department's social hall Monday morning. The fire department is a drop area were donated non-perishable supplies. Items may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. until the first trailer is full. Rich Cooley/Daily

Deadly flooding from last week’s storms has taken the lives of more than 20 in West Virginia, and the response of Shenandoah County residents who want to help flood victims has been swift and substantial.

Penny Shipe, secretary for the Toms Brook Volunteer Fire Department has been coordinating donation efforts to try to provide some relief to those affected.

“My husband and I, we were sitting at home,” Shipe said. “We saw all the pictures and we didn’t see anybody who was doing anything so we involved Toms Brook Fire Department. My husband’s the chief and I’m the secretary. Then we started looking for a trailer. Valley Towing offered their trailer, and JBG Towing is going to haul it down.”

Shipe said the American Red Cross has agreed to direct her where the trailer of items will most benefit victims of the flooding.

She said the effort has been a way for her and others in the community to extend a metaphorical hand to those in need.

“We’re just helping other communities out. Toms Brook is doing it. The members have been here nonstop. The community has been a big help. Rubbermaid in Winchester has already contacted us about gathering stuff up. Wal-Mart on (U.S.) Route 50 is looking in to what they can do. City National is looking to help too – I think they lost some branches (in West Virginia).”

The items are being collected at the fire department’s social hall. When they’re ready to be packed up, they will be loaded into trailers and driven to flood victims in West Virginia. Shipe said volunteers will wait to load the trailers until they’re ready to depart, to avoid any spoilage or other heat-related problems.

“We have other trailers on standby. If we get two – great. If we get three – wonderful. We’re not asking for any money or anything, just good country people trying to help others. We’re hoping to fill one by Wednesday or Thursday and then we’ll leave. They (the Red Cross) are sending us a list of places, and we’re looking at that to tell people what to bring.”

Shipe said they’re collecting items most likely to help after a natural disaster, like bottled water, canned food, baby formula, diapers, toiletries and items to assist in the clean-up, like brooms and buckets. She said they are not taking any furniture donations right now, unless the Red Cross indicates a need for furniture.

So far, the community’s support has been touching, Shipe said.

“If I had to guess, I’d say 100 people have called,” Shipe said. “The fire department’s phone has been ringing nonstop. As soon as you get off the phone, it rings again. We’re volunteering our time. Other people have been volunteering their time too.”

Anyone interested in donating can bring items to 3342 S. Main St. in Toms Brook.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com