Check Boatertalk.com for more east/SE folks... look for paddling clubs or take some classes to meet people... theres actually a lot of paddlers in the SE...prolly more then out here, i would think. or it used to be like that.
oh and in September you can go to Gauleyfest in WV.... and join American Whitwater. they are a great resource on many levels... to meet people, support river conservation, and learn lots of stuff too...
hope that helps