The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 6, 2012

Justice donates truckload of produce to Rainelle

Six days after a massive windstorm — called a derecho — tumbled trees and tore down power lines, Rainelle Mayor Andrea Pendleton was ready for some good news Thursday.

The good news arrived in a big truck with “The Greenbrier” emblazoned on its side and its cargo hold filled with fresh produce from The Greenbrier Farm.

As the truck rolled into Rainelle Thursday afternoon, Pendleton could barely find the words to express her appreciation for the donation from Greenbrier Chairman and President Jim Justice.

“It’s a whole truckload of produce for the town from Jimmy Justice,” Pendleton exclaimed. “It was such a surprise, it took my breath away.”

She noted, “There’s lettuce and carrots and potatoes and cabbage — the biggest cabbages I ever saw. I’m just so thankful to get this for my town, and the people of Rainelle are so grateful, too.”

After the truck arrived, Pendleton, National Guard members and several volunteers were going door-to-door in the western Greenbrier town, spreading the word about Justice’s donation and a community dinner planned by the American Red Cross for Thursday night in Rainelle.

As the power flickered on and off in many parts of town, Pendleton asked residents still without electricity to throw their homes’ main breakers to “off” to prevent damage to appliances when the power surges back on.

She also cautioned that a boil water advisory remains in effect for the community of Lilly Park. There is no such advisory in Rainelle, however.

The Rainelle Medical Center cooling station is still open and has food to serve.

Pendleton said the Rainelle Fire Department is offering free water and military meals ready to eat (MREs) at the fire house, while the town’s Go-Mart is offering free ice.

She added that several of Rainelle’s merchants are now operating, with The Laundromat open with six washing machines and three dryers, and generators and batteries being sold at Western Auto, Flint’s Hardware and Ace Hardware. Kroger in Rainelle is open and air-conditioned, and Rite-Aid is also open.

Anyone who needs to do so may dispose of spoiled food and waste in Dumpsters across from the Army Reserve Armory. There is no fee for this service, and it is open to all, not just Rainelle residents, Pendleton said.

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Most of eastern Greenbrier County is further along in the recovery process, thanks to the restoration of electricity in the business districts and some residential areas of Lewisburg, Fairlea and White Sulphur Springs after only 48 hours, more or less.

Ronceverte was not so fortunate, with no electricity in the town until late Wednesday night, according to city administrator Reba Mohler.

“This is the first day we’ve had electricity and computer access,” Mohler said from her City Hall office Thursday.

“Our main goal now is to get water restored throughout the city,” she emphasized. “The main tank has to get to a certain point before the pump can be turned on, and then the next tank has to fill, and so on.”

A particular concern is the Totten Circle area of town, which still has neither power nor water.

“We’re under a boil water advisory, and we are asking people to conserve as much as possible,” Mohler said.

Compounding the misery is the breakdown of Ronceverte’s garbage truck, which was awaiting arrival of an ordered part Thursday before it could be put back out on the road.

“There are Dumpsters on the Island for people to dispose of their perishables,” Mohler pointed out. “And we have staff out in dump trucks to collect debris from the sidewalks and roadsides.”

She said, except for reports of a tree resting on a Pocahontas Avenue house and another that fell on the amphitheatre bleachers in Island Park, she hasn’t heard of any major storm-related damage in the River City.

The National Guard trucked in bottled water and MREs to be distributed at the police station, with more expected to be delivered later in the day.

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In Monroe County, power was back on in Union and some of the surrounding areas, including Gap Mills, County Clerk Donald Evans, who also serves as information officer, reported Thursday afternoon.

“We’re doing better,” Evans said from his office in the county courthouse, which was open Thursday for the first time since Friday’s storm.

Evans said Appalachian Power had indicated 650 of its customers in Monroe County, primarily in the Red Sulphur and Dry Pond areas, were still without electricity, down from 1,700 at the beginning of the crisis.

Mon Power was still reporting 1,400 customers without power in an area running from Union north to the Greenbrier County line, Evans said.

“We’re turning the curve,” he offered.

“We just got ice and water in today, and we expect another truck at 6 p.m.,” Evans said Thursday. “We have folks out taking water and ice to our more remote areas, checking on people who live out there.”

Many of the volunteers conducting the neighbor checks were firefighters, rescue squad members and county officials, including Evans.

Both of the county’s cooling stations are still open. They are located in senior centers in LIndside and Union.

Evans asked that anyone with structural damage to their home or business call the 911 Center’s non-emergency line with that information. The number is 304-772-3912.

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Also:

— According to information flashing on an electronic signboard in Fairlea Thursday afternoon, free ice, drinking water and bulk water are being distributed at Rhema Christian Center.

— The Family Refuge Center’s Lewisburg shelter still did not have power as of Thursday afternoon, according to the FRC’s executive director, Bill Turner.

“We have 11 residents, and they are sweltering,” he reported. “We’re searching for a generator now.”

Turner said several trees fell or were badly damaged on FRC property, with removal costs estimated at around $7,500, an additional financial burden for the nonprofit agency that serves Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties.

— People driving to the area to take in the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament this week were faced with fuel shortages early in the week, and now that more gas stations are in operation, some motorists are complaining about high prices.

An unscientific survey Thursday of gasoline prices in the Lewisburg/Fairlea/Ronceverte corridor where Classic traffic is heaviest showed the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas ranged from a low of $3.39 to a high of $3.56.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

 

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