After flooding, Bucs, Class A club aid W. Va. community

Pirates, Power help relief efforts during torrential downpour in summer

After flooding, Bucs, Class A club aid W. Va. community

PITTSBURGH -- Torrential downpours and flash floods pounded parts of West Virginia on June 23. The damage was catastrophic. 23 people were killed, hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of people were left without power.

When Ken Fogel saw the flooding, he knew the West Virginia Power had to help. So the Pirates' Class A affiliate, based in Charleston, went to work. They devised a plan that, with help from the Pirates, raised $50,000 toward flood relief efforts for the West Virginia region of the American Red Cross.

"Like any disaster, it's on everyone's mind," said Fogel, the Power's executive vice president. "Everyone knew someone who was affected."

Several of the Power's game-day employees were affected, Fogel said. He recalled seeing one distraught employee wearing the same clothes to work a few days in a row, obviously suffering from some form of the loss impacting nearly the entire state.

Forty-four of West Virginia's 55 counties were placed under a state of emergency. The National Weather Service called the deluge, as much as 10 inches in some areas over about 12 hours, a "thousand-year event." According to multiple reports, it was the deadliest flash flood in the United States since 2010.

So Fogel sat down with the Power's senior staff and hammered out a wide-ranging fundraising plan. Their owners and sponsors donated. They asked fans to do the same.

The following homestand at Appalachian Power Park, a dollar from each ticket sold went toward that fund. So did half of the proceeds from their nightly 50-50 raffle -- as well as one winner's earnings. But the Power's plan didn't stop after one homestand.

They sold "Stay Strong West Virginia" t-shirts and special tickets online the rest of the season, with a percentage designated toward the flood relief fund. They collected cash at each register and ticket window. There is still a link to the West Virginia region of the American Red Cross' page prominently displayed on the Power's website.

"We knew there was an immediate need, and it was immediate in everyone's minds," Fogel said. "But there was going to be a lingering need as well."

In early August, Pirates Charities sent 50 pallets of dog food to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association, which had been rescuing animals affected by the flooding. The Power's players, who also held a food drive at a local pet store, helped unload the truck sent by the Pirates, as well as supplies collected by the Power. The moment hit home for one of the club's brightest young stars.

Right-hander Mitch Keller was only 12 years old when flash floods devastated his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2008. But he remembered the damage, and he wanted to get involved in West Virginia.

"I was little at the time, but I knew how much it affected everybody," Keller said. "Seeing Charleston go through that, I wanted to help them any way I could or do anything that could help. I knew how much suffering and pain they were in."

In the end, the Power raised about $30,000 and Pirates Charities contributed $20,000, coming together to assist a community and state in need.

"We are proud to partner with everyone at the West Virginia Power in support of the recovery efforts of those effected by the historic and devastating floods." Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said in a statement. "The Power organization is a Pirates affiliate both on and off the field, as we both share in the same deep-rooted commitment to help improve the lives of those in need."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.