On Friday, Oct. 26, the communities of Helvetia, Pickens, Czar and surrounding areas were enjoying the sun and the high temps of 78 in the mountains. Little did we know that our worst nightmare was just around the corner.
By Tuesday, Oct. 30, winds were picking up and the snow was falling. Hurricane Sandy had blown her wrath toward the west only to meet a storm that was headed toward central West Virginia. Snow kept falling and even though the residents of our community are very familiar with lots of snow, this was more than we expected!
Phones and electric soon went off due to the heavy snow bringing down trees and power lines. There was little communication with the outside world or our neighbors. Only those few that could send a text with their cell phones or had Internet could get messages out.
Those along the main road worked to clear their driveways and walkways of several feet of snow so that we could check on others in the community.
The state road was working in high gear to keep the main road clear, but the blizzard was coming so fast and snow was so heavy that after a few days the crew was getting worn down.
Volunteers gathered at the state road garage and the local fire department to organize and give the state road crew a hand.
With only a limited amount of equipment, crews could only get to a few back roads at a time. Priority was given to those back roads that had residents with medical needs and children.
A request was put in for the National Guard to bring more manpower and equipment. As we waited for outside help to arrive, we had local firemen, state road crews and a few national guardsmen that live in the community working vigorously to get into the back roads to trapped families.
By Friday, it was obvious that help was needed fast! We had residents that had exhausted their water supply and could not get to their springs so they were melting snow to drink.
We were getting a little nervous that some families would seriously suffer before our local crews could get to them. Early Saturday morning we were relieved to see the first truckload of water and MREs from the National Guard, and then another load came in the afternoon. This time they also had crews with chain saws ready to kick into gear and get the job done.
The power company trucks also showed up in force. One team of guardsmen scanned the community for those elderly and medical needs residents who live alone or needed major help.
Other crews pitched in and helped clear debris from back roads so the road crews and power crews could get through. Things were beginning to move forward!
Other local residents branched out on the back roads to take water and food to people. It was such a community effort!
People from Elkins, Buckhannon and other outside areas started bringing in loads of food. Hull's store became our "donation station."
By Sunday afternoon most back roads were open to 4-wheel drive vehicles and all residents on those roads were accounted for and safe. Still with no electric and phones, we were pleased to see the Red Cross food truck toll into town with hundreds of hot meals for our residents.
Again, everyone jumped in and delivered meals to those who didn't have a way to cook. By Sunday evening power and phones started coming back on in some areas and a sigh of relief and excitement came over our community for the first time in a week!
We just cannot explain and thank all who were involved. We truly are blessed to have a community that we can call family. We have not mentioned any names in this letter because there are just too many to name but be assured that your names are etched in our hearts forever. God Bless each and every one of you.
Mrs. Thrayron Morgan