CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Kanawha County’s volunteer fire departments have collectively responded to 1700 calls.
The county has 24 volunteer fire departments – some are located outside of city limits or in rural areas.
“One of the problems that we’ve seen is that the volunteer fire departments haven’t been able to get out and do their fundraising, you know their expenses are the same and they’re still answering calls, in addition to car wrecks and fires, they’re also responding to COVID-19,” said County Commissioner Ben Salango.
The commission voted Thursday to give $10,000 to each volunteer fire station, which coincides with the $4.2 million in CARES Act funds the rest of West Virginia’s volunteer fire departments will receive.
Commissioner Salango says he’s glad the Governor heard their request.
“They need to be recognized, you know these folks, they’re going out at three and four and five a.m. in the middle of the morning when there are car accidents… they’re leaving their families, it’s a high-risk job.”
The commission also voted to award $45,000 to the Mountaineer Food Bank for Kanawha County’s COVID-19 Food Pantry Program.
“One thing we’ve seen since the COVID outbreak is more and more people are going hungry, and that includes children,” he said.
Salango says the community needs help now, but less than 10 percent of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act money currently being overseen by Governor Justice has actually gone out to the community.
“We have businesses closing every day, he hasn’t given any of the money out to our small businesses, he’s reserved it for fixing potholes and road work but we need to get that money out,” he said.