Fresh clothes for a fresh start

Richwood residents and volunteers Karen Brugnoli, right, Sarah Owens, second from left, and Gary Brugnoli (not pictured) came to the Clean Cow Laundromat in Marlinton last week with loads of laundry for 140 residents of the Nicholas County Rehabiliation Center. The center was flooded and the three volunteered to wash clothes as part of relief efforts. They received assistance from Clean Cow owner Jamie Strauss and her husband, Mark. S. Stewart photo
Richwood residents and volunteers Karen Brugnoli, right, Sarah Owens, second from left, and Gary Brugnoli (not pictured) came to the Clean Cow Laundromat in Marlinton last week with loads of laundry for 140 residents of the Nicholas County Rehabiliation Center. The center was flooded and the three volunteered to wash clothes as part of relief efforts. They received assistance from Clean Cow owner Jamie Strauss and her husband, Mark. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

There are things in life that we sometimes take for granted because they are usually readily available – clean water, clean dishes and clean clothes.

After a devastating flood swept through Richwood two weeks ago, many residents found themselves without those essential amenities.

Last Thursday, volunteers Sarah Owens, Karen Brugnoli and Gary Brugnoli offered assistance to the Nicholas County Rehabilitation Center by washing clothes for the 140 residents, who are currently housed in nursing homes around the state.

The three volunteers had a plan, but they didn’t have a laundromat.

Enter the Clean Cow in Marlinton.

“I found them on Facebook,” Owens said.

“We knew they were closed today, and Sarah told them we had a need and they responded back in probably thirty minutes,” Brugnoli said. “We went, loaded up our truck with dirty laundry, and we were here this morning.”

Clean Cow owner Jamie Strauss and her husband, Mark, helped the volunteers sort and wash the laundry. They also enlisted the help of the Pocahontas Center dryer for one resident’s large collection of clothing.

They were grateful to find a laundromat close to home where they could utilize all the machines at once.

“We are so thankful for them opening it up to just us,” Owens said. “This was a group effort. That is my dad’s truck. There were people tossing dirty laundry into it yesterday. There were a lot of people involved. Everyone keeps saying, ‘you’re doing it.’ My only part in it was Facebook and laundry detergent.

“I happened to bring about twenty laundry detergents,” she continued. “We said ‘how can we help?’ and we started brainstorming. When I called [the Clean Cow] and they said ‘we have twenty washers,’ Karen and I both went, ‘twenty washers, we can get a lot done.’”

The Center suffered damage with approximately four feet of water, but Brungoli said the building is salvageable.

“They brought in a cleaning crew and they’re cleaning now,” she said. “It’s severe but they said they would have it clean in about four weeks. They are allowing two weeks for the employees to get equipment in, so in about six weeks, the residents can return.”

Although all three suffered losses or had family who suffered loss from the flood, they were determined to help those who were worse off than themselves.

“My dad lost his business, his office I should say,” Brugnoli said. “We got about everything out, but his office was a disaster. We haven’t been able to do much, so we’ve been going around and just helping whoever needs it.”

There is much to do before Richwood and other affected areas in the state get back to normal. Returning clean clothes for 140 people is one of many steps in an ongoing recovery.

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