PARKERSBURG - About 20 generators collected through the Rotary Clubs were hauled Thursday to Tucker County where they will be used in the disaster relief efforts, a Rotary officer said.
Southern and eastern West Virginia including the Panhandle are digging out from several feet of snow from Hurricane Sandy and power remains disrupted to thousands of people.
Rotary District 7350 Gov. Greg Smith and fellow Rotarian Roy Greathouse left Williamstown Thursday morning in a truck hauling the generators to Tucker County and Amy Barb, president of the Tucker County Rotary, who is coordinating the dispersal of the units with the local Canaan, Davis and Tucker County volunteer fire departments.
The units will be used by families with seniors, with illnesses or young children, she said. Most of the generators went to disaster shelters and businesses, to help pump gasoline and provide food and supplies.
"There's a lot of people in need here," Barb said.
Barb was elated to receive the information from Smith that the generators were coming.
"It's wonderful," she said. "It was a phone call from Heaven."
Most of the generators are from 5,000 to 8,000kw output and can power several homes at a time, he said.
The generators are on loan from local Rotarians, businesses and the Wood County Sheriff's Department, which loaned three units, Smith said. Also loaded onto the truck carrying the generators were filled 5-gallon fuel cans, extension cords and other supplies, he said.
"We put out the call" and the club responded, Smith said.
To help with aid such as food, clothing and similar necessities, the American Red Cross has stepped forward in West Virginia and across the Atlantic Seaboard where the rare early fall storm hit.
The Red Cross sent mobile units carrying food and water to Boone, Nicholas and Tucker counties, spokeswoman Katie Bender said. Red Cross shelters remained in Bruceton Mills, Inwood, Martinsburg, Masontown, Morgantown and Ranson.
Needed are volunteers, donations and blood, said Sharon Kesselring of the Red Cross Chapter in Parkersburg.
"We're going to need blood for a while," she said.
Anyone interested in volunteering and undergoing the required training session can contact Shannon Taylor at the Red Cross at 304-485-7311, Kesselring said.
Groups interested in sending equipment like generators can contact the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, said Leslie Fitzwater, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.
The state chairman and coordinator of the program is Jenny Gannaway at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 606-625-5921 or 304-426-4394. The websites are www.wvvoad.communityos.org and www.nvoad.org.
Much of the southern counties and the eastern side of West Virginia were covered in several feet of snow from the storm. About 4 feet of snow was in Tucker County, Barb said.
Schools in 21 counties were closed for the third day. Utilities crews have been working around the clock to restore power.
A major federal disaster declaration was requested on Thursday, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The request if approved would make additional federal emergency aid available.
Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., toured the impacted areas on Thursday.
"We're hoping to see the areas that have been inaccessible because of the extremely heavy snowfalls and make sure that people get the supplies they need," Manchin said.