Worst Emergency Scenario in recent history going on in West Virginia

July 4, 2012 · Officials from the WV National Guard say the storm that ripped through the state Friday night created one of the worst emergency scenarios it’s had to deal with in recent history. Lt. Colonel David Lester says in the wake of this disaster, the immediate call was to help deal with the lack of power.“What we’ve been doing as part of the WV National Guard is transporting generators to areas identified by the state emergency operation centers that need generators. Primarily the first ones we targeted were nursing homes, hospitals, and water plants to make sure people had water up and running.”Lester says the storm created unique challenges for the Guard.

“We’re used to dealing with floods and snow events, and hurricanes. Typically those events happen to five or six counties. This had such a broad sweep across the state of West Virginia that there are so many communities on need that it’s been one of the most trying ones we’ve dealt with.” What’s more, Lester says guardsmen are pulled up according to their skills. Typically that means engineers who know how to deal with flooding; but in this case, the state needs people with a different set of abilities. “We have called up an additional 125 people which is part of the 450 members that we have out there who have a background in transportation,” Lester says.

“What we’re finding we need are people to drive trucks to deliver generators, drive trucks to be able to haul things. All types of missions with vehicles is what we’re finding is the need that we have. We’ve identified that and we’re filling that need so what you’re going to see is a more guard vehicles out in your communities.”

Lester says in addition to trying to help fill the various depleted food pantries, the Guard is also trying to check on people living in the more remote areas.  “What are teams are doing now is trying to set up distribution points. Trying to go out with our vehicles and make sure we’re knocking on doors of people who may live isolated and ask them if they need help. We call that help and wellness teams.”  According to a news release, approximately 400 West Virginia National Guard members are currently deployed across the state.

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