Wheeling, W.V., Aug 2, 2016 / 03:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s been over a month since West Virginia was pounded by torrential rains that resulted in one of the worst flash floods in state history, killing at least 23 and leavings hundreds more displaced. And while recovery efforts are ongoing, the need is still dire.

“Federal assistance and donated goods, although significant, will quickly be depleted,” warned Mark Sliter, executive director of Catholic Charities West Virginia. “In our experience, we anticipate extensive long-term needs.” Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who heads the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, recently toured some of the most devastated areas to see both the damage and relief efforts.

“It is vital for us to see both what has occurred, and how people are beginning to put their lives back together,” Bishop Bransfield said, according to the diocesan website. “This way, we can make sure we get them what they truly need at this time and set them on a path to rebuilding their homes and their lives.”

On July 25, the bishop visited Sacred Heart Parish in Rainelle, one of the areas most affected by the flooding. He spoke with those who have lost their homes and visited a former grocery store that has become a center for relief and volunteer efforts, as well as an outreach site offering food and counseling. Nearly six weeks after the devastating flood, many people in Rainelle are still in need of basic necessities, and there is a shortage of both money and volunteers, the diocese said.

Recovery from the disastrous June 23 flooding is expected to take more than five years, Catholic Charities said. Initially after a disaster, immediate relief efforts focus on providing for basic needs, such as food water, shelter and medical attention. Eventually, short-term relief efforts give way to long-term recovery efforts, which focus on helping people rebuild their lives, and communities rebuild their infrastructure and economy. This process can take years.

Catholic Charities West Virginia has been meeting with both government and non-profit partners to discuss and coordinate this next phase. So far, the agency has received more than $600,000 in flood recovery donations, primarily from members of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese. “We are inspired by the generosity, compassion, and love for all of our neighbors witnessed this past month,” said Patricia Phillips, director of development and marketing for the agency. “All of the collected funds will go to disaster recovery.”

Catholic Charities West Virginia is accepting continued donations to help with ongoing recovery efforts. “We are committed to serving those affected by this tragedy for the long-term and ensuring people affected by the disaster return to a safe, secure, and stable living situation,” Sliter said.