Code Enforcement Partners with Non-Profit to Help Disaster Victims
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Disasters can strike at any time. In an instant, a flood or fire can destroy lives and leave those affected feeling helpless. In 2019, the National Fire Protection Association reported that there were 339,500 housefires in the United States alone.
People often think of the rebuilding process that comes in the months, or years, following a disaster such as a housefire or a flood. What happens though in the immediate aftermath and hours following a disaster? Individuals and families are often left feeling hopeless with nothing but the clothes on their back and are left wondering what to do and were to go. The Morgantown Code Enforcement Department, with the help of a non-profit called After the Disaster, is prepared to ease some of those concerns and help make the first few days easier for residents who have been affected by a recent disaster.
“Seventeen years ago, I got a call that my house was on fire,” said Joy Buskirk, founder of After the Disaster. “Although our home didn’t burn to the ground, we were left with nothing but the clothes on our back due to the water and smoke damage. I knew people would be in the same situation I was in, and if I could make it easier on them, I would.”
After the Disaster prepares large tote bins with 20 total personal hygiene kits made specifically for men, women, and children. The kits include shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a towel, and other hygiene items for each separate demographic. These kits are delivered to local fire departments and other first responders so they can give the kits to victims at the scene of the disaster.
Code Enforcement Director Mike Stone began working for the City of Morgantown in 1979 as Morgantown’s first Housing Inspector. After responding to a house fire shortly after beginning his tenure with the city, he saw that the victims of the fire were left with only their undergarments on during that cold winter night. It was after that event that he began carrying basic clothes in his vehicle for responding to disasters where the victims are left with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Stone now requires all Code Enforcement officers to carry a tote bin with a change of clothes for disaster victims and now, thanks to After the Disaster, a kit for each age demographic.
“On November 5, we received a 20-kit donation from After the Disaster for our code officers to keep on hand in case they are ever needed. It is very much appreciated,” said Stone. “People don’t realize that personal hygiene items and toiletries can be very expensive when bought all at once. These items will come in handy in the event any of our citizens ever need them. We can’t thank After the Disaster enough.”
After the Disaster, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization located in Parkersburg, West Virginia. For more information on how to get involved or how to donate, visit www.after-the-disaster.com.