FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Storms initially hit Marion County on June 10, but some residents are still in the cleanup process. One place that has been hit repeatedly is the Disability Action Center. The center is dealing with water damage, foundation damage and more.
“I don’t see this problem getting any better, and I don’t see anybody taking responsibility for the thousands and thousands of dollars of damage that have happened to our center and the displacement of our programs for individuals with disabilities in Marion County and the surrounding area,” Julie Sole, Disability Action Center executive director, said. “Inside damage to our facility is into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A gymnasium, instructional classrooms, restrooms, an entrance way, a computer lab, all carpeting and flooring in those areas are effected.”
Sole said the root of the flooding is because of Coal Run Creek on Kirckway Drive. That creek overflowed several times during heavy rain, causing water to pile up against the Disability Action Center building and not recede for hours. Sole documented the deuteriation of the creek. She said the city came and removed part of the culvert pipe that siphoned the water from the creek underground after the first flood. But then the city left one piece in the ground for three more days. During those days Sole said that piece of pipe became lodged in the concrete and the water couldn’t run down it anymore, causing more water overflow and flooding.
“I’m taking water in all directions due to absolute negligence and unmaintained infrastructure in this area,” Sole said.
The center built a wall to try to lessen the damage from more water but most of the lower part of the center was already too far gone. That lower part houses the Playworks kids center, which had to stop seeing clients for a week while the center assessed the damage.
“Last week our clients weren’t able to be seen at all,” Seneca Stephens, Playworks speech language pathologist, said. “We did offer tel-a-therapy and we did offer for them to go to Morgantown to be seen but, of course, that effects a large portion of our clients here in Fairmont… A lot of my kids if they get off track, and they do miss a week it’s hard to come back and adjust and transition. Having a new space, especially for kids with autism, it’s difficult to be in a new environment and just, a transition and an adjustment each week.”
And that’s not the center’s only issue. There’s also a condemned building up the hill from the center that is deteriorating and when rain falls it causes debris to fall toward them.
Sole said when she brought up her issues to city officials some told her that they knew they were in a flood zone when they moved into the building in 2009.
“We have opened up the doorway to downtown Fairmont by beautifying this center and offering the services that we do, so the excuse that we somehow deserve this because where we’re located, doesn’t hold water with me. No pun intended,” Sole said.
Since flood insurance doesn’t cover all the damages, and the city hasn’t given them any money yet, Sole has started a GoFundMe and is asking for the community’s help. She said her only plan now is to relocate her center and move to higher ground.
12 News reached out to the Fairmont utilities manager, and he has not responded yet. Marion County Commissioner Randy Elliot said the county commission fully supports the Disability Action Center.