WILLIAMSON — As the sun shone brightly over the hills of Mingo County on Friday, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter touched down at the Williamson Airport, carrying Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III, U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph A. Diemont and West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Homeland Management, Jimmy Gianatta. The state and national officials were escorted by General Hoyer, the head of the West Virginia National Guard.
The group was visiting the counties within the state that were affected by the “Frankenstorm” that followed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. On Friday, they began their day in the Eastern Panhandle and ended their tours in Southern West Virginia, making stops in Mingo, Logan, Boone, McDowell and Wyoming Counties.
“We were in Martinsburg today, which serves as the distribution point for the northern portion of West Virginia, and Charleston serves the southern part,” said Tomblin. “They have been hard at work getting supplies to areas that remain without electricity that we’re hopeful will see their service restored in the next 24-48 hours. There are still roads that are blocked by fallen trees and other debris in various locations such as Preston, Tucker and Upshur Counties where snowfall accumulations totaled up to three feet.”
“We have West Virginia National Guard members out in these areas doing door to door checks to make sure that our residents are safe, and to also access what they are in need of. In some areas where travel by roadways is still impossible, the National Guard is landing helicopters to deliver needed supplies.”
Tomblin, with the support of Manchin and Rahall, has requested an “Expedited Major Disaster Declaration” from President Obama, and expects to have that signed in the next few days. This will allow for individual households to apply for grants as well as businesses. More information on the declaration will be released by the Daily News in next Tuesday’s edition.
As far as electrical outages in Mingo County, Emergency Services Director Jerrod Fletcher said that as of Friday afternoon, eight homes in Dingess remained without power, along with 10 in the East End of Williamson, eight in Chattaroy, 11 on Beech Creek and 16 in Ben Creek, and according to the latest estimates from Appalachian Electric Power, all should be restored no later than Saturday.
“I want to take a moment to say how great it was to see U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, U.S. Congressman Nick Joe Rahall and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin back in Mingo County today,” said House of Delegates member Justin Marcum.
“We are blessed to have a great group of men representing us and working to protect the citizens of Mingo County on a state and a national level. All of them have a heart for our county, and for the people who call it home.”
The leaders who visited Mingo County on Friday asked that their condolences be paid to each and every West Virginian as well as those who reside in other states who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“They are all in our thoughts and prayers and we are doing everything we can to make certain they receive the assistance they so rightfully deserve,” stated Manchin. “This is West Virginia, this is our home, and we are working together to help all of those who are in need.”
“We’re working around the clock to lend a hand to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and as always, West Virginia will take care of our own.”