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Community with rain-damaged homes fighting for answers

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A community right outside of St. Albans floods just about anytime it rains. Don Fraley, the outreach director at a nearby church, is fighting to find answers for the community of more than 200 homes.

On Nov. 15, WSAZ spoke with Fraley about the problem. Since then, Fraley took his concerns to Gov. Jim Justice’s office.

“So between the governor, the state attorney general and the good Lord above, maybe we can get something done for these people,” Fraley said.

Homeowners like Brenda Carter say they have tried to find help through the years, but no one has an answer — all while she watches her home cave in.

“The whole yard floods, and I have 4-5 inches of water to get out to my car,” Carter said.

One half of her home sits higher than the other after 28 years living along Virginia Avenue. Severe cracks in the walls show the rainwater that flows under her homes sinks it more each time.

“These cracks here have been started for the past year. I’d say this past year this has gotten worse,” Carter said.

Carter is not the only one; other residents have reported mold and structural issues to their homes, too.

After Fraley went to the governor’s office, WSAZ also reached out to see what is being done to help the area where more than 200 homes sit in the saturated ground.

“The Marlaina subdivision is not part of the West Virginia State Highway System; therefore, the roads, pipes, culverts, and ditches in that area are not maintained by the Division of Highways. Under West Virginia law, it’s illegal for the DOH to repair the aforementioned off the state right-of-way system, which is the case here. Mr. Fraley met with our Constituent Services office, who then passed along his information to the City of St. Albans after we determined the private subdivision was not part of the state roads system,” said a spokesperson with the Governor’s Office.

Carter said she has paid her insurance and property taxes for 28 years and she never knew the area was private.

“All I knew is that I had to pay my insurance, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes,” Carter said. “No one has mentioned anything to me about that.”

WSAZ reached out to Kanawha County officials who also say the area is private property and the ditches that run along the neighborhood have not been maintained.

Fraley said residents do not pay Homeowner’s Association dues for the area which the state and county said would help maintain the ditches and roads. Carter also said she has not paid dues to live in the area for 28 years.

“I used to be the president of the HOA where I live, but the thing is there is so many conflicting stories — even if there was an HOA that from the information I got 1954 when it was established and was abolished in 1991. What about the 22-plus years,” Fraley said. “But that also brings up the subject of residents that have been here for 30-plus years and they can’t tell me they have ever paid a HOA any kind of dues whatsoever.”

Carter said she wants to move, but no one will want to live in her home.

“Nobody will want to live here with the water, so I am going to lose money on it whenever, even though I have added to it and even fix it up before I sell it I am going to still lose money on it,” Carter said.

Fraley hopes through the conflicting information about who is responsible, he prays a solution happens for the people who live in the community he serves.

“That is my main goal is to get the state to adopt this situation and put an end to the havoc that these people face every time it rains,” Fraley said. “That is what I am seeing with our government today. They don’t want to help the people, and that is what is driving me today.”

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