FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. –Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall today visited communities to assess storm damage and meet with local emergency management directors. The officials also spoke with individuals affected by this devastating storm and saw some of the damage firsthand.
“It was absolutely heartbreaking to meet with folks who have had their homes and businesses destroyed by the storms” Gov. Tomblin said after assessing storm damage. “As I told each and every person I met with today, I'm doing everything within my power to help all those who have been affected by the storms. Tomorrow I will request a major federal disaster declaration, which if granted will bring additional federal assistance. We will continue working around the clock until all West Virginians are safe, our roads are open, and our utilities have been restored.
“As I travel around with Governor Tomblin and Congressman Rahall, what we’re seeing is a strong team effort, with FEMA working closely with the state and our National Guard. Our top concern right now is contacting the people we haven’t been able to reach because of heavy snowfall in the mountains. I know all West Virginians will join me in praying to the good Lord that they’re all right as we work feverishly to reach them," Sen. Manchin said. “On top of those concerns, my heart is just broken by the devastation I saw firsthand today, but I am also truly inspired by the deep resilience of the people of our great state. Inspiring is the only way to describe the determination of these families and businesses to put their lives back together - and to help their neighbors do the same. As West Virginians, we will all keep anyone who has been affected in our prayers and lend a hand when we can. I want to assure all West Virginians that I am working continuously to make sure that our state gets what we need from the federal government, which is why I was pleased to learn today that FEMA is sending additional food, water and health-related supplies, along with power generators. They're also sending four 60–person chainsaw crews to accelerate power restoration. For any West Virginians with questions, concerns or ideas about how the federal government can better help those in need, please don't hesitate to contact my office."
“I am pressing top FEMA officials to make available all possible Federal resources to aid the State in the restoration of power and opening access to roads. In that regard, I understand the U.S. Forest Service has offered its services in removing fallen trees and that food, water and generators are being delivered by FEMA to areas in need,” said Congressman Rahall. “Having seen the widespread damage for myself and spoken in depth with state and local officials, I will continue to make the case to Federal officials in order to assist our families and businesses in their recovery.”
As the storms begin moving out of the state, we continue devoting all resources to keeping citizens safe, restoring utilities and clearing all roadways. Our Division of Highways and Forestry are assisting utility crews, in their efforts to access necessary areas, by clearing snow and tree debris from roadways. The latest reports estimate we still have approximately 195,000 customers without power.
“I encourage all West Virginians to check on your neighbors, friends and family—take care of each other,” Gov. Tomblin said. “With power companies predicting it may be several days before the power will be restored in all areas, I want to make sure our families are safe. If you or someone you know has been displaced or is without electricity, I urge you to seek out a shelter in your area for a meal and a warm place to stay.”
Additional storm updates, including road conditions, are available online at www.governor.wv.gov
Photo Courtesy of the Governor's Office
Gov. Tomblin, Sen. Manchin and Congressman Rahall meet with members of the National Guard in Summersville.