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Looking back on the history of our microloan program and the flood that necessitated it

On July 8, 2001, Wyoming County experienced a devastating flood that left one dead and displaced hundreds of our residents. As the water swept away houses and structures throughout our county, it also wiped out 80 percent of businesses in Mullens and 50 percent of businesses in Oceana, The Register-Herald later reported. 

The 2001 flood changed a lot of things in our communities, from the way we prepare and prevent similar disasters from occurring again, to our persistent anxiety surrounding heavy rainfall. But one thing that stayed constant throughout the experience was the way Wyoming County residents supported one another. 

At the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, that support came in the form of a microloan lending program, an initiative initially created in partnership with federal agencies to assist local business owners as they recovered from the flood. 

The temporary emergency relief loans gave entities a chance to rebuild and regain the lost profits. When they were able, businesses repaid the loans. Though not all businesses survived the flood, most loan recipients paid off their share, doing so with hopes that the funding could revolve and support the next business endeavors to come.  

Two decades later, our program still stands, and its impacts are still felt throughout the Mountain State. Today, our microloan lending program offers financial support to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout West Virginia as they turn their dreams into reality. 

Last year, in the midst of yet another unprecedented event, we turned our lending efforts toward providing COVID-19 relief for small businesses, using the same structure we created after the 2001 flood. 

Since 2001, the Wyoming County EDA has lent more than nearly $11 million to assist more than 300 businesses across the state. Approximately $1.875 million was disbursed through 125 flood relief loans, each totaling $15,000, that were distributed before January 2002.

Though it’s expanded over the years, the objective of our microloan program has stayed the same: to help businesses thrive in Wyoming County. And that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do in the years to come. 

As West Virginians, it’s in our nature to look out for one another, especially in times of distress. Having the opportunity to support our fellow Wyoming County residents throughout the years has been a tremendous privilege for our team, and we are inspired by our people and their resilience. 

No matter the circumstances, we’ll be here, ready to support you, your business, our county, our region, and our state  — together. For more information about our microloan program, visit us at