National Guard helps counties hit by storm
Guard members from the 157th Military Police Unit in Martinsburg helped assess flood damage in Berkeley County after this week's storm.
November 1, 2012 ·
Members of West Virginia’s National Guard are in several counties helping with efforts to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and in Berkeley County, the 157th Military Police Company, which is headquartered in Martinsburg, was on duty after the storm.
After checking in with the county’s Emergency Services
Director each morning, a team of three Guardsmen hopped into a tan Humvee and
headed out to monitor flooding along the Opequon Creek.
“We’re just making
sure that the water level hasn’t risen or anything like that,” Sgt. Thomas
“We’re letting them know that the water actually is going down
so we can make sure the roads are, we can say they can be opened up again.”
The first stop was an area where an historic stone bridge
spans the creek. In severe weather this spot usually floods. On this morning,
the assessment team notes a white van sitting in the middle of the road, which
is covered in water.
“There’s a lot more debris so it’s causing a little more
flooding,” Grochowski said. “It wasn’t up as far on the road as it was
yesterday. Of course there wasn’t a van there yesterday either so that’s
something new for us.”
The road is also covered at the next stop, Douglas
Grove Road, which runs parallel to the Opequon
just upstream from the stone bridge. This is another road that isn’t ready to
open. Grochowski points out the water level is lower than it was the day
before, but Spc. Jason Jones says he wouldn’t drive through it even in the Humvee.
“I can ford 30 inches of water and I’m not driving through
there,” Jones said.
“And the reason I say that is because I don’t know what the
road base is like underneath. Like if you look right over here, all this water
has washed out all the gravel and all the base underneath the asphalt so I
don’t think it’s very safe.”
After checking the water levels in the creek the team
assessed damage reported to a couple of buildings, including the Martinsburg
Habitat for Humanity office where part of the roof was torn off.
“The roof’s repaired but where the wires are connected its
kind of coming off the building and there’s a possible threat of the live wires
going into the road,” Grochowski said. “So we’re going to call that up, try to
get someone out her to fix that so it doesn’t cause any more damage.”
This is one of three health and welfare teams assigned to Berkeley
County for this disaster doing a
variety of jobs over the past three days, including assessments, checking on
people who are stranded and bringing them supplies if needed, and rescuing
people who get stuck after driving into standing water.
This assessment team has finished its job here in Berkeley
County as conditions have improved, but National Guard teams in other counties continue to help residents and local
officials deal with the storm’s aftermath.