For decades, numerous communities were deemed too poor for federal flood protection.

Now a new section of federal water law, and the Biden Administration push for equity could help them.

Photo by Amy Dinaldo

1 p.m., June 23, 2016.

“The town is flooding!” a worker at the Nicholas County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Richwood, West Virginia, yelled to Nancy Mullins.

Thinking of her children, Mullins, a cook at the nursing home, raced to their home a block from the Cherry River, moved them to safety, and returned to the nursing home. …


YOU HELPED SPREAD COVID TO MY FRIEND — SHE DIED TODAY

On September 2, 2020, after more than two weeks on a ventilator, Elaine Purkey died, in a hospital in Charleston, West Virginia. She shouldn’t have died of COVID-19

A musician, an activist, a supporter of union coal miners, Elaine Purkey was a West Virginia treasure. She performed all over the country, including on the National Mall in Washington DC during the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

“Elaine grew up in a family of musicians and singers in southern West Virginia,” stated the bio for her performance at University of Pennsylvania…


A Citizen’s Guide to Watchdogging Policing

Richwood, West Virginia photo by Penny Loeb

On the evening of March 1, 2018, the mayor of Richwood, a tiny impoverished city tucked in West Virginia mountains, was slammed into a wall, handcuffed and dragged off by the chief of police while trying to ask a question about corruption at a city council meeting.

Suddenly, in the midst of reporting for a book about Richwood and three other inland communities struggling to become protected from flooding, I had to understand whether it was legal for a police chief to do this to a mayor trying to make his city flood resilient.


Every morning, Elaine Nash awakes in her home overlooking Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre and begins the never-ending search for another $100,000 to feed thousands upon thousands of horses whose owners lost jobs and businesses in the coronavirus pandemic.

The desperation cries out in the nearly 300 applications for more than 5,100 horses that have poured in since mid-March to Fleet of Angels, the nonprofit Nash founded to help equines in crisis.

A Minnesota woman with 7 horses and 6 mini horses lost her job after COVID-19 closed the movie theater where she worked. A waitress for a Waffle House in…


IRS Targets Government Officials When Employment Taxes Are Unpaid

More than 180 buildings were damaged or destroyed in Richwood, and losses total more than $50 million.

SEE UPDATE AT END December 4, 2019

While flooding can cause massive destruction and millions of dollars in losses, the June 23, 2016 flood in Richwood, West Virginia, is probably the only flood that caused the Internal Revenue Service to go after a former mayor for not remitting payroll withholding funds to the IRS.

“Our efforts to collect the federal employment or excise taxes due from the business [City of Richwood] named above have not resulted in full payment of the liability,” an IRS official wrote Bob Henry Baber on November…


Part Two of ICE Detention Ordeal of a Jockey from Venezuela

On Valentine’s Day, 2019, Eduard Rojas Fernandez walked out of the Baker County, Florida, ICE Detention Center, free…for awhile…to await the hearing on his asylum request.

On January 23, just as the populist revolt began in Venezuela, clouds had begun to lift for Rojas, as well. Smerdon, his attorney, received a succinct email: C.F. Pos. The USCIS official had determined his fear of persecution in Venezuela was credible.

In Venezuela, January 23 is the anniversary of the 1958 overthrow of the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship. Now it will also be…


Why following rules to legal immigration is no guarantee

Eduard Rojas Fernandez

In Venezuela, horse racing odds are sometimes stacked in favor of organized crime.

The Mafia has been known to poison horses and order jockeys and trainers to let the longshot win. They obey, for fear of harm to them or their family. Antonio Sano, who now trains racehorses in Florida, including $4.1 million winner Gunnevera, was kidnapped twice in Venezuela, one time for 36 days.

Nearly a decade ago, Eduard Rojas Fernandez chose to disobey. He was on a horse he found for owners, a horse with a good shot. He let him win. …


by Penny Loeb

Chromies at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park

Thank you California Chrome. You are far more than the nation’s highest-earning racehorse and 2014 and 2016 Racing’s American Horse of the Year. You touched hearts and gave hope and community to fans around the world.

Your admirers poured out their hearts on your Facebook pages. They marveled at your rags-to-riches story. “The foal with the pedigree that was scoffed at. The foal who beat the odds to become a champion — the definition of speed. He proved in the most amazing way possible that greatness can come from anywhere, in any size or shape.” Leila Elliott.

Penny Loeb

Author, investigative reporter (at Newsday and U.S. News & World Report). Finalist Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award. www.pennyloebwordsandphotos.com

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