West Virginia Floods

While it certainly wasn’t the kind of homecoming he hoped for, when disaster struck West Virginia last summer, Stu Matthis, P.E., vice president and business development director in our Transportation & Infrastructure Division, returned to the town where he spent nearly two decades of his life to lend a helping hand to the recovery efforts.

West Virginia Flood DamageAt least three counties in West Virginia were declared federal disaster zones after a series of summer thunderstorms deluged wide areas of the state with more than 10 inches of rain in 36 hours. The resulting damage was massive: heavy flooding, mudslides, and water damage leading to numerous bridge washouts, miles of roadways damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of homes ruined. More than 25 lives were lost due to this natural disaster.

Stu grew up in Richwood, WV, during the 1960s and ‘70s. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency mobilized in West Virginia in late June, Stu concluded that his familiarity with the agency (from his career as an engineer) could help make a positive difference on Richwood. While there, he voluntarily performed cursory field inspections of 13 bridges to assess scour damage, loss of bridge components, loss of stability of walls/abutments, tilting piers, channel degradation and debris damage. He then worked with FEMA to assemble preliminary damage assessment reports, describing the needed repairs including replacement recommendations and order-of-magnitude cost estimates. These reports will be used in coordination with the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) and the National Park Service, as applicable, to pursue federal assistance in programming the necessary work to return the bridge sites to a state of good repair.

“I saw this as an opportunity to help the people of Richwood,” Stu said. “I know the process well. At STV, we have a lot of experience supporting resiliency and recovery efforts after major storms and disasters, so I was able to personally apply that expertise to a more personal cause.”