The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 4, 2012

Both federal and state assistance being sent

For those in rural communities with little power restored, residents are looking for state and federal aid workers to distribute water and food, clear debris and assist in bringing generators to necessary facilities.

Sgt. Anna-Marie Ward said the number of West Virginia National Guard troops have increased to 400 in affected counties and another 50 in Charleston are performing command and control operations.

The Guard members are working alongside Division of Highways personnel to clear debris from roadways and to transport fuel and generators to water treatment facilities, hospitals and cooling stations, she said.

Ward said guardsmen have dispatched heavy equipment to help perform debris removal.

Brent Walker, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said crews were brought in over the weekend to clear roads. And while there are still some county routes with felled trees and debris, DOH has concentrated a cooperative effort in supporting the National Guard by helping to transport supplies and whatever they might need to in turn assist those who need aid.

In addition to clearing roads and moving generators to facilities that provide infrastructure, the National Guard has health and wellness teams who are gong door-to-door in communities to ask what local needs are.

These teams are able to assess the need for medical assistance in addition to food and water she said.

“Our soldiers and airmen continue to work hand-in-hand with the West Virginia state Division of Highways and all other state agencies as well as with local authorities and community groups,” said Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, West Virginia Adjutant General. “Many of these employees are without power themselves but leave their home each day to bring relief to the citizens of West Virginia. Their level of commitment is amazing.”

Nick Morici, external affairs officer for FEMA, explained the federal emergency management agency’s assistance is being driven by the state.

Unless the governor submits a request for the state to be moved from a State of Emergency to a Major Disaster Declaration, FEMA provides only a supportive role behind state recovery efforts.

FEMA is currently responding to specific requests from the state.

The agency sent 28 tractor-trailers of water to West Virginia on Sunday and 54 again Monday, said Morici.

In addition, numerous large generators to support infrastructure have been sent to support stations in Morgantown and Charleston, said Morici.

Terrence Lively, spokesman for the State Office of Emergency Services, said statewide there are still about 333,000 power outages between the two major power companies. More than half as many as when outages peaked Saturday with 680,000.

Lively said the State Office of Emergency Services is distributing water and meals brought in through FEMA efforts.

Though he did not have information on specific distribution site locations Tuesday, he did say the support station in Charleston is serving the southern part of the state.

From Charleston, a total of 40 trucks of water, each one carrying about 18,000 liters, has been sent south, he said.

In addition, the state is working to distribute FEMA generators to assist critical medical facilities and water stations without electricity, he said.

Lively said the offices are also working with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the American Red Cross to send food to local shelters and cooling stations.

They have also been able to distribute several trucks of ice, he said.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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