By C.V. Moore
Storm-blown Nicholas County continues to buckle under the weight of heavy, wet snow after Superstorm Sandy dumped several feet in cities, towns and hinterlands beginning Monday.
More than 40 collapsed structures have been reported in the county and, as of Friday afternoon, 60 percent of residents are still without power.
The county is requesting food and water from the state for its shelters and for distribution to people still stuck in their homes.
The National Guard is doing some road clearing, but volunteers are needed in Nicholas County to come help with tree removal and reaching shut-ins.
“They are trying to get to the elderly and disabled to help clear out their pathways,” said Fayette County Emergency Services Director Theresa White. Nicholas County’s director could not be reached Friday.
Officials are asking people not to “self-deploy” as volunteers. Instead, call West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster contact Jenny Gannaway at 606-625-5921 or 304-426-4394.
Donations to the WV VOAD Disaster Relief Fund can be made to the West Virginia Council of Churches at 2207 Washington St. E., Charleston, WV 25311, or by calling 304-344-3141.
Three emergency shelters are still open in the storm-ravaged county.
First lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin visited Fayette County Emergency Services on Friday afternoon to see if there was anything she could do to support the agency.
But for the most part, the office was quiet as the vast majority of power is restored in the county and residents’ needs recede.
In Fayette County, only 15 percent of customers are still without power. A few lost power Friday because of work being done on lines.
Nearly all customers were expected to have power by midnight Friday.
Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville is feeding power company workers at a 50 percent discount as a gesture of appreciation for their hard work.
All Fayette County roads are open for at least one lane. Some private roads are impassable or rough.
National Guard troops are out distributing water to people affected by a boil water advisory in place for Dothan, Mossy, Garten and Gatewood.
A line broke Thursday night in Gatewood when power was switched from the generator to the grid. The other areas are experiencing low pressure.
The governor’s office told White they will be making a Federal Emergency Management Agency request for public assistance for Fayette County. Once more detailed information is gathered, individual assistance may be sought.
“We need to get a little more melt to see the damages,” says White.
The Fayetteville Church of God shelter will close this morning. The old Gauley Bridge High School shelter is already closed.
Fayette and Nicholas will benefit from some dry weather for several days, with highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s.
A weekend system will pass mainly south of the snowpacked area, with only light precipitation expected in the higher elevations late tonight and Sunday morning.
There is generally 2 to 4 inches of water content left in the snow pack in the Fayette/ Nicholas area.
Officials are asking people to be aware and monitor their creeks and streams. Debris left over from the summer storm combined with new natural debris from Sandy has the potential to cause blockages in waterways.
After a long week of conference calls with affected counties, White has come to see that Fayette County “dodged a bullet” this time around.
“It makes us feel very fortunate when we hear what the other counties are going through. I know it’s hard for people when they look out their windows and think about all the shoveling they need to do, but we dodged a huge bullet,” she says.
Barbour County, for example, still has 90 percent of residents without power and there is no water or sewer in the entire county.
“They are feeding 300 people at every feeding in their shelters,” says White. “The National Guard is prepared to do water and food drops from the air.”
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