In a crowded room with more than a dozen computer and
projector screens, men and women dressed from head to toe in camouflage walk
quickly from desk to desk, answering ringing phones and scribbling hectic notes
from the caller on the other end.
This room is known as the JOC, or the Joint
of the West Virginia National Guard. This room in the Coonskin Armory in Charleston
is the center of it all during the clean-up from Hurricane Sandy, where
guardsmen throughout the state call in with requests for assistance.
Through a door at the end of a row of computers
sit the heads of this operation. Adjutant General James Hoyer and Gov. Earl
Ray Tomblin are making video conference calls to emergency officials and
guardsmen in areas of the state hardest hit by the storm.
"If there's anything else that we can do all you have to do is call and we'll do what we can to get things back to normal and help you get things back to normal as quickly as possible," said Tomblin while on a call.
Wednesdays video conferences were about putting
the pieces of the puzzle together, trying to figure out what kind of help was
needed and where.
"Preston, Nicholas, Barbour
County seem to be some of those
that have been hit the hardest,” Tomblin said.
Duane Hamilton, Preston County Office of Emergency
Management Director, told the governor 78 percent of his county was
without power and trees blocking roadways was their biggest issue.
In Nicholas County, they experienced the collapse of eight structures
under the weight of heavy snow, but Barbour County was worried about water.
Without power, their public
service district can’t pump water to county residents. OEM Director Cindy Hart
told the governor the county was trying to stay ahead of the problem.
“So, what we did was I went ahead and put in a
request for two tractor trailers full of gallon jugs of water. If we can
provide that to the hospital, the shelter and AB College and make sure the
citizens get what they need,” Hart said.
Officials at Mount Storm in Grant County reported more than 35 inches of snow on the ground. The
Dominion coal-fired power plant in the county is down because of a weather-related
mechanical issue and isn’t expected to be up and running again until the end of
the week, but other counties in the panhandle weren’t so bad and were offering
aid to those around them.
does have a rather large generator here plus we have extra cots and blankets
should they be needed some place else,” said Hardy County Office of Emergency Management Director Paul Lewis.
“That’s great to know and we appreciate that,” Adjutant General Hoyer responded.
But other counties also found themselves in need. Upshur
County experienced upwards of two
feet of snow in the southern and eastern parts of the county, causing major
problems for first responders.
OEM Director James Farry said an ambulance got
caught in the snow for more than nine hours Tuesday night as it tried to
respond to a call. His request, more man power from the state to help check the
welfare of those residents stuck in their homes.
“We cannot access those areas of the county with
the equipment that we have," Farry said, "so that’s probably our biggest concern at this
National Guardsman at the JOC are
staying busy, continuing to answer calls and dispatch aid, working to piece
back together a tattered West Virginia.