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Volunteers with Greater Cincinnati Red Cross head to West Virginia after massive flooding

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Posted at 7:11 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-28 19:32:04-04

WEST VIRGINIA -- Volunteers from the Cincinnati-area Red Cross continued to work tirelessly Tuesday in the flood-impacted areas of West Virginia.

"Right now we have nine volunteers there," said Skip Tate, with the Red Cross. "We are not sure yet if any more are headed there."

Flooding has wreaked havoc across the state, taking 24 lives -- a number authorities fear will rise.

The rain has stopped, but not before severely damaging or destroying more than 1,200 homes, including 500 in Roane County.

Kanawaha County had 400 homes and 70 businesses destroyed and another 250 severely damaged.

John Bernard is the regional disaster officer for the Greater Cincinnati chapter of the Red Cross. He is in Greenbrier County where 111 homes and 14 businesses have been destroyed.

"This is the worst disaster I have seen," said Bernard, who has been with the Red Cross for two and half years. Bernard used to be the regional disaster officer for West Virginia.

"They are calling this a 1,000-year flood," Bernard said Tuesday night. "It's not as big as the flooding in Houston this year, but it's caused more damage."

The American Red Cross has a total of 400 volunteers across West Virginia. They are doing everything from disaster assessment to staffing shelters for residents that have been washed out of their homes.

WCPO spoke with Bernard, who has been in Greenbriar County since Friday. "Right now I am delivering 10-by-10-foot pop-up tents for canopy shade," Bernard said. "It's for search teams and cadaver dogs.

“We got word they might have found more remains today."

Bernard has an uncle that lost a house due to the flooding.

Vanessa Mosley is the Cincinnati Regional Chief Development Officer for the Red Cross. She left for West Virginia Monday.

"I have cloths for dirty work and I have cloths for office work," said Mosley before departure. "I will be helping with the fundraising efforts for sure."

Bernard added, "If people are asking, 'What can I do?' Give!"

The Red Cross has set up shelters for a dry place to stay for residents, but they have also worked around the clock preparing and delivering meals.

"We have teamed up with the Southern Baptist Church here locally," said Bernard. "They have a facility that is putting out 5,000 meals a day."

Bernard guesses he will spend a total of two weeks in West Virginia before the return trip home.

"Truthfully, the days kind of run together. I am not even sure where the other volunteers are from Cincinnati," said Bernard. "If there is a need, we are going to do everything we can to meet it.”

President Obama has declared West Virginia a disaster area. The first step of getting federal assistance started today.