The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 6, 2012

Fayette County’s smaller communities pulling together

PAGE — While the latest storm raged outside, a group sheltering inside the Page-Kincaid PSD got a lesson in how to use Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). 

The storm hit Page at approximately 12:30 p.m. Thursday while volunteers were outside distributing water to a  steady stream of local residents still in need from the storm that passed through a week ago.

“I put my last penny in my truck just now,” says Ronnie Brown as he picks up a bit of fresh water from a dwindling supply.

Brown and others in the outlying areas of Fayette County are hanging on as county officials say they are turning their attention to potentially overlooked areas.

Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Bill Laird visited the PSD Wednesday to take stock of the situation in Page, where deliveries of food and water have reportedly been sporadic.

“We’re doing the best we can, just waiting for resources to come in,” says PSD Manager Bart Jackson.

“Keep the water coming,” he asks of those at the top of supply chains.

The PSD’s water service was out of commission until Tuesday due to lack of power. Jackson wound up renting a generator on his own instead of waiting for the one he ordered from the state, which arrived late at night after being lost for hours.

He begged diesel to fuel the generator from nearby coal mine operators, who offered it up with no questions asked.

In outlying areas, the situation varies from household to household. Some have generators and can do a little better for themselves. Others travel to cooling stations for relief from the heat.

Most who show up at the PSD for water say they have a little food left, but no way to keep anything cold.

Residents say they waited Wednesday for meals from the National Guard that never came.

The Guard says a feeding station in Glen Jean is preparing about a hundred meals to send out to Page.

Jackson, South, and their counterparts in rural Fayette County don’t have any instruction manuals, and they are feeling things out as they go. South says it’s not even clear to her who is in charge of the relief effort.

“We’re just trying to maintain,” says South. “We’ve tried to meet as many needs as we can.”

“Each little community is isolated, so they just try to make sure everybody in their community is OK.”

The Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) in Beards Ford has been trying to let residents know what is going on and where resources are available. They have also been delivering water to people who can’t leave their homes.

“Our goal is to reach out and get to shut-ins and people who can’t walk or wait in line for two hours for a meal,” says Vicki Smith of SALS.

For now, at least at the Page-Kincaid PSD, it’s instant vanilla shakes from vacuum packs, rock hard oatmeal cookies and new lessons in patience.

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