New roof keeps West Virginia family safe and dry

Story and photos by Somer Hanson

Robert Whitmeyer was working his shift as a pizza delivery driver in Grafton, West Virginia, on April 28 when the sky turned black and softball-sized hail began pelting down. The storm broke windows, damaged cars, and punched holes in rooftops across the county.

Robert Whitmeyer stands in front of the roof he was able to repair with top-quality donated shingles from World Vision's warehouse.

During a rainstorm the next day, Robert discovered the effect of the hail on the home he shares with his wife and four children—water cascading through the kitchen ceiling and running across the ceiling into the living room.

He patched 38 holes in the roof, but it wasn't enough to keep the water out. Remembering his emotions at the time, Robert says, "You're so desperate you don’t know what to do."

He called around to local home improvement stores and got a $4,000 quote for shingles to repair his roof. And then things went from bad to worse: a week after the storm, he was laid off. With no means to buy the materials to protect his family, he visited World Vision's Storehouse in Philippi and explained his predicament to manager Dave Leach.

The new shingles keep the family safe and dry after a hail storm punched 38 holes in the roof.

At the Storehouse, families in need pay $15 for an annual membership that allows them to shop for building materials and appliances donated by generous corporations. Typically, a small fee is charged based on the product's original cost. Robert was familiar with the system, having previously visited the Storehouse for a badly needed bathtub and kitchen sink.

The price of shingles from the Storehouse was about half of what he'd been quoted elsewhere, but without employment, he was still unable to afford them.

Sensing the unique nature of the situation, Dave visited Robert's home and verified the damage.


"Once the roof starts leaking, then ceilings fall," Dave says. "It's a fast, steady decline with the home."

The dents on the family's car show the severity of the storm.

To keep Robert's family from experiencing this catastrophe, he waived the fee for 48 bundles of top-quality donated 30-year shingles.

"When Dave told me about the shingles I about cried," Robert says. "It was a huge relief."

A friend helped Robert complete the repairs, and his family is once again safe and dry. Robert, who found new employment with a taxi service in town, is grateful for the hand up that enabled his family to recover from disaster.