College professor conducts study on Rainelle residents

RAINELLE, WV (WOAY) – A study being conducted focuses on the town of Rainelle and how people living there handled the pandemic as well as the aftermath of the 2016 flood.

Partnering with Rainelle locals, two West Virginia University colleagues started a study on how rural and vulnerable areas are impacted by life-changing events.

Geography Professor Jamie Shinn is conducting the study. She said, “When the pandemic started, I was interested in thinking about how this community responds to this disaster. They’re already recovering from the flood and have already shown sources of vulnerability, but also sources of resilience. What does that look like in the context of COVID-19?”

Ten residents from Rainelle were given digital cameras to document daily life during the pandemic, where Shinn saw the resiliency once again.

“What I was struck by is also in which ways they connected the disaster of the pandemic to the disaster of the flood and ways in which they’re talking about through their photos.”

Shinn said through the research she’s found, the way that people handled the two disasters have many similarities, like how to rebuild after tragedy.

“But also ways in which these communities were resilient with how they pulled together.” Shinn said, “Neighbors helped neighbors and showed an incredible sense of community and sense of place that helped them recover.”

As the professor now has ties with the Rainelle community, there are hopes to have some of the pandemic photos from the study on display.

The display is expected to debut in late August at the Rainelle Town Hall.

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