Leadville News – September 19
Sweet Carolin-a! Leadville Has Arrived To Help
Catastrophic. Historic. Unprecedented.
For many living in Leadville Today, the best thing to do for friends and family in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Florence is to make donations to the American Red Cross, and pray for its victims. However, there is a small group from this mountain community who have arrived in North and South Carolina to help with the recovery efforts.
“We have six guys and three trucks down in the area right now,” said Kyle Welch, owner of KW Construction and Restoration (KW) in an interview with Leadville Today this morning.
The KW crews will be working to restore a number of Dollar General stores throughout the region so that they may restock their shelves and help rural communities get back up on their feet after the historic flooding brought on by Hurricane Florence since it made landfall last week. For readers unfamiliar with this retailer, it also acts as the primary grocery store for residents in the region, so food supply is a key factor in getting these stores back open.
“We had a hard time getting into the area, the flooding is pretty bad: ten feet in some places.” said Nathan Fisher KW Project Manager from the work crew’s temporary office in Dillon, S.C. located 125 miles west of Wilmington, N.C. which saw a direct hit from the storm last weekend.
Fisher reported services are limited if available at all, indicating that the small Mom-and-Pop shops are generally the first to re-open, even if half-stocked and staffed. However, the bigger retail giants like Walmart are still closed due to flooded roads.
“Yesterday, there were nine ways into where we needed to get to, but all of those roads were flooded – except for one, eventually – by the return trip. We were nearly isolated.” Fisher’s reports line up with what forecasters have been predicting: that while Hurricane Florence may have left the region, the rising flood waters remain, and could for a while. It will be days before we can even get into some of these businesses, Fisher concluded, adding that the entire KW mission could be weeks on the road.
But this kind of work is not unfamiliar to the Leadville company, and it’s not the first time KW has left the beautiful Rocky Mountains behind to head towards the disasters, towards the people who so desperately need help. They went down to help after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston just last year and after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the east coast in 2012.
“What we do on the road is generally flood mitigation,” explains Kyle Welch, President of KW. “We go in and make the building safe by cleaning and drying it out.”
K.W. CONSTRUCTION & RESTORATION has been in business in Lake County since 1988. While locally, they provide a variety of services, out-of-town jobs focus primarily on restoration, something that will be sorely needed in the Carolinas for months to come. Once the KW crews have finished the restoration job, the construction companies can come in and put the business back together again – safely.
In addition, when you’re operating in extreme conditions, you never know what you may run into on-the-job. And while this trip, the crews haven’t had to perform any of their own emergency efforts as they did during Hurricane Harvey, Fisher reported that they did see plenty of folks being rescued from their cars and homes, after ignoring officials’ warnings about the hurricane’s predicted impact in the region.
Of course, the KW crews are prepared with enough personal and work supplies to last as long as it takes to get these businesses up and running. “Gas, ice and coolers,” is how Fisher puts it. But no doubt, KW’s cargo loads can be sizable, including generators (with enough gas needed to operate them) and dehumidifiers which create dry air, accelerating the process of drying out the buildings. In addition, the KW crews bring their own protective gear that is used in this type of mitigation work, as well as food and personal supplies. Remember, the basics are scarce in hurricane tattered communities.
KW Construction and Restoration works with many people and businesses from around the country who face devastation from damaging flood waters. However each situation is assessed carefully before Welch allows his crews to go into possibly dangerous situations, as well as staying out of the way of emergency services efforts.
“It takes a lot of money and man power to go out on the road,” explains Welch. “So you need to determine if there’s anything you can do in relief areas, are there enough people to take care of it, to help with the work?”
The crew’s initial reports from South Carolina indicate pretty challenging conditions just to get to the areas in need of help, however they are prepared and ready to assist: from rescues to restoration. And while the life-safety rescue efforts are always a priority, eventually businesses and homes will need KW’s services. If you – or someone you know in the region – have a need for their services, please contact them via their Facebook Page or call 719-486-0553.
Stay safe and thanks for representing Leadville’s heart in the midst of an American crisis!