A&B Kia Aids Flood Recovery

Photo by Joselyn King A&B Kia in Benwood has donated $100,000 to flood relief efforts in McMechen, and the automobile dealership announced Friday they will host a fundraiser Aug. 27 to assist those living in the McMechen area. Pictured from left are West Virginia Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, and Mike Ferns Sr. of A&B Kia; McMechen Mayor Greg Wolfe; and Mike Ferns Jr. of A&B Kia.

BENWOOD — A&B Kia already has donated $100,000 toward flood efforts in the city of McMechen, and now the dealership will join with local banks in hosting a fundraiser to help those in the city and surrounding area recover from losses.

The event is set to take place from 1-5 p.m. on Aug. 27 in the banquet room at the automotive dealership in Benwood. Tickets will be available at A&B Kia, and at Main Street Bank and WesBanco locations in Wheeling, Moundsville and McMechen.

A&B Kia owner Mike Ferns Sr. said it became evident to him as he viewed the damage in downtown McMechen that problems extended well beyond the $100,000 donation, and outside the McMechen city limits.

“The reason we’re doing this is to reach out and get more money to help more people,” Ferns said.

McMechen Mayor Greg Wolfe said city officials have been going door to door to record the losses suffered by residents. They have been taking note of the number of cars ruined or damaged, the number of furnaces lost and the number of water heaters and other appliances that will have to be replaced. These numbers are still being tabulated, according to Wolfe.

McMechen officials learned this week from state officials that the city likely will meet criteria for public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for repairs to public properties, and that damage was excessive enough for McMechen residents to apply for individual assistance.

Wolfe said McMechen hasn’t yet spent the $100,000 from A&B Kia, but will form a committee of residents to determine how the money should best be utilized after final decisions from FEMA are announced. He expects the city will use some of the money to make repairs to public properties, and that some will be allocated to assist individual residents hardest hit by the flooding.

“It will be a combination of both,” Wolfe said. “We’re going to make decisions.”

Marshall County commissioners have authorized the funding for the most immediate needs in McMechen, and the city is “recovering very well,” according to Wolfe. He estimates about 500 of about 900 homes located within McMechen experienced flood damage.

Still closed in McMechen, however, is the city building. The facility was damaged during the flood and remains without phone or internet service.

During the last 10 days, city offices have operated out of the Center McMechen Elementary School building, and from a truck provided by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.

Wolfe said the city building should be open again in the next 10 days as city officials focus on cleanup in the community. In the interim, emergency calls in McMechen are being handled by the Marshall County 911 system, who then alerts first responders to needs.

Ferns said A&B Kia will establish a committee to handle money generated by the Aug. 27 fundraiser. Among those already agreeing to be on the committee are Richard Lucas, president of Main Street Bank, and Doug Molnar, senior vice president of marketing at WesBanco.

Molnar said WesBanco is offering a Weather and Flood Damage Loan Program to residents and small business owners affected by the flooding. Those affected can apply immediately for a 5-percent APR fixed-rate loan that can be repaid over a maximum five-year period, and eligible applicants can borrow up to $5,000.

Lucas said employees at Main Street Bank will assist with setup for the fundraiser, and the bank also will make a monetary contribution.

The Wheeling Nailers will be donating $5,000 to the flood effort, according to Don Rigby, executive director of the Regional Economic Development Partnership, which owns the Nailers.

“We saw this as an opportunity to add to what the business community is already doing,” Rigby said.