Donations needed in Morgantown and Wheeling for Kentucky flood relief

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – Recently, flash flooding was reported in parts of southeast Kentucky after the region was hit with extreme rainfall. The flood victims lost a multitude of things like houses, cars, food and even some of their lives. Two chefs from West Virginia will travel to Kentucky on Monday, August 1 with trucks and vans loaded with supplies and necessities.

Marion Ohlinger, executive chef and co-owner of “Hill & Hollow,” along with Matt Welsch, executive chef and owner of “Vagabond Kitchen,” gather supplies on Sunday, July 31. Ohlinger will accept donations in Morgantown at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Building at 1550 Earl L Core Rd. between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Welsch will accept donations in Wheeling at Vagabond Kitchen at 1201 Market St., also between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. h

Items that are requested as donations are:

  • Bottled water
  • gallons of water
  • Foods that don’t need to be cooked – Peanut butter, bread, protein bars, etc.
  • Full propane tanks
  • Sanitary items – Toilet paper, baby and adult body wipes, diapers, etc.

Flood victims have no electricity, gas or even water supply at this time, due to contamination from the floods. Everyone currently cooks on propane tanks, so full tanks are an essential need. People cook for hundreds of people on home grills. Those who donate propane cylinders won’t get them back, but both chefs appreciate those who are willing to donate despite it.

The two chefs come down to help cook in the community kitchens that are being set up in Kentucky for those affected by the floods. They were getting updates on Sunday that there were dips that had just opened up due to complete road destruction. Many people have not had food, water, electricity or medical attention for days.

The decision to descend was an “impulse of the moment” decision. Ohlinger saw a photo on Facebook of a young woman with her dog sitting on the roof of a house that was almost completely underwater. He was so moved by the photo and how the girl put her dog in a tub and swam seventy meters through the flood waters to reach higher ground. He immediately thought, “Man, we have to do something.” he called Welsch on Saturday morning and asked if he could accompany him. They’ve both had to scrape a few things from their schedules, but they’ll hit the road to Kentucky early Monday.

Leaving a week on the spur of a moment is a big deal, so there had to be a reason why they felt the flood was bad enough to put everything on hold and go help.

“I felt a lot like when this happened in southern West Virginia four or five years ago. [6 years], we’ve been overlooked by much of the rest of the country, Appalachia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, in particular, just kinda forgotten when things happen. We just felt like we’re going to go down to Kentucky and make sure that doesn’t happen there, we’re not going to let them be overlooked,” Ohlinger said.

At first they were afraid they would arrive too late to really help, but then they realized it was an ongoing crisis and they didn’t even know how many people needed help. right now.

“Hundreds of cooks in Appalachia and across the country are now cooking for people around the clock,” Ohlinger said.

If you can’t manage to donate items, people can always make monetary donations through Chef Welsch’s Kitchen PayPal, which is [email protected] Saturday night, they had already raised $5,000. All proceeds will go directly to purchase needed supplies for flood victims. Anything they don’t use for supplies will go to someone in Kentucky who can help turn it into something useful for victims. They will go where and when they need more supplies while in Kentucky. Ohlinger and Welsch will be there for a week.

Ohlinger mentioned that donations through larger charities tend to take longer before people receive it, whereas the money raised will go directly to the victims since they will be there for the give them.

When asked how Ohlinger felt about being able to go help flood victims, he mentioned that he was glad they both had the time to go. He added that it’s not about them at all, but about the fact that they’re both capable of doing it, so they’re going to do it. They do what they can and like to think everyone would do it if they could.

“West Virginians are kind and generous people, and sometimes we are misunderstood, this is our chance to show people who we are,” the Hills & Hollow chef added.

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