Karen Kane and her family were returning home to Pennsylvania from a vacation in Hilton Head on Saturday, June 30. During her drive through West Virginia, she wondered why the traffic on the interstate was back up and traveling so slow and why there were long lines at most service stations, but paid it no mind-until her gas gauge began hovering around the "E" mark.
If Kane had taken the time to read the newspaper at breakfast that morning before leaving South Carolina, she would have been aware of the massive storm that had blown through several states-including West Virginia-the evening before, knocking out power to many areas and causing severe damage.
After stopping and asking a deputy about the situation, she was told about the state emergency, and a gas station up the road was using a generator to pump gas. Wondering if she had enough gas to make it to that station, she began a conversation with another family from Ontario, Canada, about the situation. While talking, both were approached by an older gentleman named Marty. Marty turned out to be the mayor of Fayetteville. He invited both families to his home, where, along with another family from Pennsylvania, they sat in the shade drinking cold water while the mayor grilled hamburgers for his stranded visitors. He later gave them a full can of gasoline, which the visitors split, to help them get to a service station where they could fill their tanks to continue on to their destinations.
Kane's story received much attention this week because she is a writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and detailed the generosity in a story published by that newspaper. It was a wonderful reflection on the state and its people and something, we feel, was repeated at many locations during the days following the storm.
Many West Virginia residents suffered severe hardships during the hours and days following the June 29 storm. Some may still be without power. However, that did not stop many of those suffering from reaching out to help others also in need.
Kane's article may have been about the mayor of Fayetteville and his wife, but we think it is a reflection on the whole state. West Virginia has many problems, to be sure. They are well known and have been documented many times.
But the state has many strengths. And at the top of that list is its people-caring people who, no matter their own dire circumstances, are always willing to reach out and help others.