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Despite storm, campers still in Putnam to repair homes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Groups of teenagers from across the country filled up their vehicles with gasoline before entering West Virginia and arriving in Putnam County on Sunday, where they will help fix area homes."We contacted all youth groups coming in and told them before they crossed the West Virginia border, make sure they had plenty of gas in their tanks and to keep them full," said Annie Hummel, a staff volunteer with Reach Workcamps. "We had some other volunteers that heard the news and brought extra gas, as well."During a four-week period, about 800 teenagers from around the United States will fix up more than 50 low-income homes in the Hurricane, Buffalo, Eleanor and Winfield areas.Reach Workcamps is a faith-based organization based in Galeton, Colo., which brings together teenagers who pay about $400 a piece to attend the camp.Staff members arrived last week to set up at Hurricane Middle School, where the first week's campers were to be housed.During Friday's storm, though, the school and hundreds of thousands state residents lost power.
Luckily, Hummel said, the old Buffalo High School was opened for the early arrival of 130 teenagers Sunday. Campers already had planned to stay at the old school for an upcoming session of camp."We had ice delivered to our location in Hurricane on Thursday, so we were able to save a lot of it and transport it [to Buffalo]," Hummel said. "All of our food was delivered Friday morning for the camp week.  . . . We got it transported from Hurricane to Buffalo. Most of the food and ice was able to be salvaged."Hummel said she was worried that the houses scheduled for campers to repair wouldn't have electricity."But actually, at this point, over half of them do have electricity back, so we're very fortunate," she said Monday afternoon.About 11,800 customers in Putnam County still were without power Tuesday, according to Appalachian Power's website. AEP anticipates that power will be restored throughout the county by Friday night."The camp is functioning like a normal camp, which is shocking because, on Saturday, we were not sure what camp was going to look like," Hummel said. "When you're bringing in this many teenagers from all over, you want to make sure you're able to feed them and provide [for] their basic needs. We also wanted to make sure we'd be able to work on the homes and fulfill that, as well."Reach Kate White at or 304-348-1723.
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