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Tomblin surveys damages

July 3, 2012
By Brad Johnson - Senior Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin flew into Elkins this week to survey the damage caused by Friday evening's severe storm and hear from emergency responders about what challenges remained for Randolph County.

A West Virginia Army National Guard helicopter flew Tomblin into the Elkins-Randolph County Regional Airport at about 4 p.m. Sunday. The governor stayed on the scene for about an hour, officials said.

"He wanted to assess the damage and how were were coping with the situation," Wayne Sheets, public information officer for the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, said Monday. "His main focus was the lack of communications due to the storm damages."

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Tomblin spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday meeting with first responders and surveying firsthand the damage around the state, according to his office.

"I know the past few days have been very trying for folks across West Virginia," Tomblin said Monday in a news release. "I can assure you that our emergency management officials and power companies are working around the clock to get things cleaned up."

On Monday, Randolph County officials worked to provide water to those areas of the county still without electrical service.

Mon Power reported that about 3,700 Randolph County customers were without power as of presstime Monday evening.

Marvin Hill, director of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, said the county's power outages remain his office's "biggest issue."

"This was the most widespread damage I've ever seen for a windstorm," Hill said Monday. "I know the power company's out there doing everything they can.

"The electricity is still a spotty thing," Hill said. "Mill Creek came back on Sunday night, and Huttonsville came on (Monday). I live in East Dailey. I don't expect to have power for a day or two.

"In some areas we're probably looking at a couple more days before power is restored."

Because of the power outages, many residents are without water service as well.

A 10,000-gallon water tanker was placed at Harding, where a boil-water advisory is in place. People who need water for cooking or drinking are encouraged to fill up their containers at the tanker.

"We'll refill it if necessary," Hill said. "We don't want anyone to go without."

Hill said the county set up an emergency shelter in Camp Pioneer in Beverly on Saturday evening, complete with air conditioning and emergency power. However, officials "closed it down" at 6 p.m. Sunday "because no one had come. We tried to let people know about it through the media.

"We can open it again if there's a need," Hill said. "We can also make it a cooling station if there's a need for that."

"If anyone out there needs help, please call us," he added. "We'll do everything we can to help."

Residents can call the Randolph County OEM at 304-636-0483.

Hill said the response from people wanting to help in the recovery effort has been "tremendous."

"We had people come from everywhere to help," he said. "The National Guard has taken water to people in need for us. I can't say enough about them.

"We've been working around the clock since Friday night, but it's not work if you know you're helping someone in need," Hill said.

Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor echoed the sentiment.

"Everybody in the community has come together," Taylor said. "We appreciate everyone coming in to help their neighbor. It's just going to take some time to get power and water back to the entire county."



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