Photos: Sean Payton evaluates his team after New Orleans Saints spend the day running drills _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Coach Sean Payton 

The New Orleans Saints continue to prepare to hold training camp at The Greenbrier Resort despite heavy flooding that hit White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and Greenbrier County last week.

Because of heavy floods on the Old White golf course that houses The Greenbrier’s annual PGA event, The Greenbrier Classic has been canceled, and the NFL Network’s Gil Brandt reported early Monday that the Saints would be forced to hold camp in Metairie, a report he later recanted.

But the Saints have not wavered on plans to return to The Greenbrier for the third straight year, and the team issued a joint statement from president Dennis Lauscha and general manager Mickey Loomis on Monday evening reaffirming the team’s commitment to the area.

“On behalf of our entire organization, we wish to extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the West Virginians whose lives have been dramatically affected by the severe flooding the state has recently received,” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, our community is very familiar with the loss of life and property these weather disasters can cause, and we are working to assist those affected where we can.

“We have maintained contact with officials at The Greenbrier, and our plans remain to conduct training camp starting July 27. We will continue to monitor the situation and look for ways that our team/organization can contribute in a positive way while we are there this summer. We will do this based on the direction of the local community and The Greenbrier, so that we are not adding to the burden of this difficult recovery.

“It is evident that help and assistance is greatly needed across the state, and in the immediacy, we are working with the United Way to offer our assistance. We would encourage those that are interested in providing assistance to visit”

The Greenbrier was forced to close its doors indefinitely last week after a series of thunderstorms dumped record rainfalls on White Sulphur Springs and the surrounding area, causing severe flooding that destroyed more than 100 homes and claimed the lives of 23 people, according to The Associated Press. President Barack Obama sent in federal aid, including National Guard troops, to the region.

Now, the resort has become a haven for those in Greenbrier County displaced by the flooding, offering a limited amount of rooms to those without shelter despite no hot water, providing food for residents and offering free tetanus shots, in addition to other initiatives.

But in a town devastated by flooding, the practice fields and training facility that houses the Saints remains largely undamaged, due to its spot on high ground near the resort. A month remains before the Saints are scheduled to report to training camp in West Virginia, and cleanup efforts are already underway in the rest of White Sulphur Springs.

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.