WNC baseball team pitches in to help Fernley flood victims

Western Nevada College baseball coach D.J. Whittemore gave his players two options after practice on Friday.

Play an intrasquad game or help cleanup flooded homes in Fernley.

"We asked them if they wanted to do it and the vote was nearly unanimous," Whittemore said. "We worked real hard this week to clear snow from our field to have a scrimmage on Saturday, but they really wanted to do this."

The baseball team was among the more than 1,000 people who took part in a community effort to help families affected by the flooding Jan. 5. WNC staff and faculty and Rep. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, and his family also volunteered.

"The team really brought a lot of hope to the people in that area," said Helaine Jesse, WNC vice president of development and external affairs. "We were shoveling mud, tearing up carpet and cleaning out cabinets of these homes."

Jesse said seeing the devastation and the people affected had an impact on all those who volunteered.

"You could see the hole this family punched in their attic wall where they were rescued by a boat," Jesse said. "You see where the levee broke and there's a 50-foot pile of dirt there now. It looks so innocuous."

As volunteers worked in the aftermath, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that about $1 million in aid had been approved for the 208 victims that had registered for assistance Lyon County.

"FEMA has been working closely with the City of Fernley, Lyon County and the Nevada Division of Emergency Management to assist those forced from their homes by this disaster. These partnerships have helped FEMA immediately respond to local needs," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Karl in a news release.

Whittemore said the thing people don't get from media accounts of the flooding is the human element.

"When you are working alongside someone who has lived in this house and you are throwing away yearbooks, their kids' drawings, everything they hold dear - it makes you count your blessings," he said.

• Contact Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

FLOOD DAMAGE

As of Saturday disaster recovery efforts include:

• 208 victims registered for state and federal disaster assistance

• $973,298 in total funds approved for residents affected by the disaster

• 49 people have visited the disaster response center seeking assistance

• 166 home inspections completed in Lyon County

Prior to the disaster declaration, FEMA distributed:

• Two semi-truckloads of water

• 22,000 meals ready-to-eat

• 500 blankets

• 500 cots

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