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Snow Induces State Of Emergency

By Staff | Feb 10, 2010

Gov. Joe Manchin discusses the power outage situation in Wetzel County with Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management Director Ed Sapp over a map showing areas previously and currently without power.

Gov. Joe Manchin touched down in Wetzel County Monday afternoon while taking a tour of the snow-covered portions of West Virginia.

His helicopter landed in the parking lot of the West Virginia State Police barracks in Hundred at approximately 1 p.m. Awaiting his arrival were various officials including Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management Director Ed Sapp, Wetzel County Commissioners Bob Gorby and Scott Lemley, and Hundred Police Chief Clay Lunceford.

The biggest concern in Wetzel County, as has been the case across the region, is homes and businesses without electricity. On Monday Sapp said approximately 2,000 homes remained without power. At one time that number was as high as 4,300. The power along U.S. 250 and state Route 69 to the city park was restored at approximately 2 p.m. Sunday.

“This end of the county is just crippled,” said Lemley, who lives in Hundred where approximately 15 inches of fell Friday and Saturday. “I will say Allegheny Power has done what they can.”

Perhaps the biggest issue with no power exists in the Hundred/Littleton Public Service District. The utility that supplies water to approximately 345 customers lost power to one of its pumps. The system was still being fed from previously pumped water as of Monday, but they were at the point that something had to be done about getting power to the needed device.

Gov. Joe Manchin talks with Sr. Master Sgt. Brent Clevinger of the 130th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard who is in Wetzel County to help during the snow-induced state of emergency. Manchin’s helicopter touched down in Hundred Monday afternoon to witness the effects of the snow on the area and see how the state can help local officials recover and get ready for another snowfall. To the left is Wetzel County Commissioner Bob Gorby and in the center, rear, is Wetzel County Commissioner Scott Lemley.

With Gov. Manchin came news that the correct type of generator was on its way from Charleston. He also said a tractor-trailer-load of water was on its way to the county.

“Our main concern is can we get you up and going before the next storm hits,” said Manchin Monday of the new snow that began falling Tuesday afternoon.

The governor said he had never seen such heaviness with snow on trees.

Because of the power outage some seniors in the Lillian Apartments were moved to the Hundred Senior Center, where a generator provided needed power. The American Red Cross even brought food to the seniors from Morgantown.

There is also an emergency shelter at the Smithfield Fire Department. Sapp said four families have been sheltering there.

The weight of the snow broke one of the light poles on Cosgray Field in Hundred. The other approximately 80-foot high poles were bending from the weekend’s heavy snowfall. (Photos by Amy Witschey)

However, Lunceford and WVSP Sgt. J.E. Shriver both said there had been no reported automobile accidents since the snow fell Friday and Saturday. “All’s been quiet here, really,” said Lunceford, who added that generally people have been taking care of themselves and their neighbors.

“We ask people to use very good judgement,” said Manchin. “If there are lines down, it is very serious. Make a phone call to 911. If you are sheltered in place and are running out of supplies or medication, call 911 and the National Guard will come and help.”

Johanna Lemasters of the Hundred Volunteer Fire Department stopped at the meeting to report that her department’s Suburban had lost its four-wheel drive and transmission while on a rescue mission during this state of emergency. She wanted to know if the state could provide any funding for that need.

Manchin said to put that and any other expenditures related to the snow in the documentation for the state. “We will do everything we can to help them,” said Manchin of county and local governments who need to operate and may suffer financial hardship because of the storm.

Another incident reported to Manchin that he encouraged to be added to the local cost estimate is the damage to the light poles at Hundred High School’s football field. One of the poles, which are approximately 80 feet high, was broken down and the others are bending. The field is owned by the city.

This light pole at Cosgray Field is bending under the weight of the snow.

Gov. Joe Manchin's helicopter lands at the West Virginia State Police barracks in Hundred.