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Mountaineers shine after devastating floods

Dear West Virginia University Family:

On June 23, devastating floods tore through several West Virginia counties resulting in unimaginable destruction and loss – including the loss of loved ones.

Within hours of hearing the news, our University community sprang into action. Several offices came together to quickly devise a plan. Soon thereafter, Stansbury Hall not only became the collection site for donated goods, it also became a haven for those who wanted to do something – anything – to make a difference to those who were affected by the storms.

Students, staff, faculty and community members have worked side-by-side to manage collection sites, organize and load donations, as well as drive the vehicles to the areas in need. By mid-afternoon on June 25, the people of the city and West Virginia University filled three tractor-trailers, three box trucks and four pickup trucks with water, cleaning supplies, diapers and other necessities.

Our football team collected much-needed water. WVU Medicine connected with state medical and emergency responders to provide vaccines and other medical needs. Our Extension Service staff, some living in the very communities affected, also jumped into the fray. Groups from West Virginia University visited Clay, Richwood and Rainelle, where one student pulled his family's cattle truck packed full of supplies. The quick work of the Mountaineer community inspired many others around the state to engage in similar efforts.

And around the country, West Virginia University alumni also responded by sending supplies, holding fundraisers and donating resources to assist the place they still call home.

I often say the quality I admire most about West Virginians is their resiliency. It is woven into the very fabric of our people and our place, dating back to our separation from the Old Dominion. West Virginia was born on the very foundation of grit. We boldly chose an uncertain pathway to establish our own identity as one unified, rugged and determined brand of people.

Our resilience is now being battle-tested. And I must say we are answering the call faithfully – and with great compassion.

The very essence of what it means to be a Mountaineer has been demonstrated one thousand times over in recent weeks. There is an uncommon spirit of concern, camaraderie and collaboration existing in these beautiful hills. We have the power to nurture resiliency and reposition our state for prosperity after tragedy.

As president of West Virginia University, I am proud – yet very humbled – by the outpouring of support our University has shown to our state and its citizens. And "thank you” hardly seems adequate. But I do thank you for your tireless and selfless contributions.

And though the path to recovery is long and uncertain, that is when we, as a West Virginia University community, is at our best. We will remain determined. We will remain steadfast. We will build a bridge where there is none – and we will keep going.

E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University