High water tore through the small Appalachian coal town of Isaban, WV, in May of 2009, leaving a brutal path of destruction in its wake. Even though they had used cinderblocks to elevate their trailer home as high off the ground as they could, Rodney and Belinda Bailey were unable to escape the flood. A swollen creek ravaged their home, leaving almost half a foot of water and debris in their bedroom and bathroom.
“Water came from both ends,” Belinda said. “It was awful.”
Their trailer wasn’t in great condition before the flood, but it was nearly unlivable after. In addition to the water damage, the trailer didn’t have much in the way of climate control. Belinda, 24, said it was frigid in the winter and sweltering in the summer.
“The walls were so rotted that water would just seep in every time it rained,” she said. “In the winter, you could feel the cold coming in. It would just come right through the doors and windows. You can’t raise a baby in those conditions.”
Following the flood, the Baileys, along with their two young children, 5-year-old Braxton and 1-month-old Addison Rae Lynn, were forced to live in one room. The kitchen was in complete disrepair, the bathroom wasn’t functional, and while the baby slept in an old crib, the rest of the family had to sleep on the floor because their mattresses had been soaked by floodwater.
Rodney knew he had to do something, but buying a new home or moving wasn’t an option. Though he gets around well, Rodney, 34, is legally blind in both eyes. The family lives on public assistance which totals just over $500 a month. Even though the area where their home is located was declared a federal disaster area, FEMA was unable to help because of a discrepancy with the deed.
Someone with the federal agency suggested Rodney call the West Virginia Housing Development Fund. Through the Fund’s Special Needs State Contingency Flood Program and working with Catholic Charities of West Virginia, the Fund was able to help the Bailey family obtain a new home.
Today, even though their rotted trailer is nearby, living there is nothing more than a distant memory. They were able to move into their new residence late last year.
“Our new home is big and everyone has their own space, but it’s just so much better for our kids and that’s all that matters,” Belinda said. “It’s wonderful. It’s just such a blessing to us. We don’t have to worry if our children will be cold.”
Through the Fund, the Bailey family was able to give their children a safe, dry, and warm home.
“We’re just so thankful that someone would be so good hearted to do something like this for us. You don’t find that kind of kindness in the world anymore,” she said.
To learn more about West Virginia Housing Development Fund, please visit their website.