Agencies survey damage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

They came to tour weather-ravaged areas of Lawrence County so they could determine the extent of the damage.

They got an eyeful.

Local leaders were eager to show state and federal

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emergency management officials yesterday what county residents have had to put up with the last 10 days. The devastation included electricity outages, trees

that had fallen through houses and roads that were slipping off hillsides due to the freezing and thawing and to heavy precipitation.

"We had several houses that had trees through them," Elizabeth Township Trustee Ron Davis said. "Beth Sparks home has a tree through it. We tried to get it off Saturday (but) we couldn't do it then.

Four of our roads, Tunnel Ridge Road, Fire Tower Ridge, Massie Hollow and Woltz Hollow have major damage.

Ridge Road looks like a war zone. I've never seen anything like this in my life. We're talking major damage."

Davis said some businesses have lost electricity and, therefore, their ability to operate. Some have lost their inventory because the food in their freezers have spoiled.

Lawrence County Commissioners sympathized with the plight of their constituents. Commission President George Patterson said he still doesn't have electricity at his house, and is paying $14 a day for fuel to keep a generator going.

Union Township trustees are asking residents who still don't have electricity to contact them. Terry Porter's home telephone number is 867-4648; Rick Gue's is 867-4079, and Mike Curry's is 867- 4357.

Windsor Township trustees said many of that area's roads are impassable due to numerous slips.

"Some roads are sinking," Trustee Mark Johnson said. "Township Road 122 is impassable on one end and people can't get in or out there. They have to drive out the other end. We have had men working on it. I hope people are patient with us We're working on the hardest things first."

"You can't hardly find gravel," trustee Donald Adkins said.

Adkins likened the damage in his township to what you would find if a tornado had gone through it. Still, h e said suffering has been eased somewhat by the Windsor Township Volunteer Fire Department.

"They cut trees, pitched in helped and did a lot of work," he said.

Commissioner Jason Stephens said North Huntington Heights Road in Chesapeake has slipped to the point it is impassable, leaving residents in that hillside neighborhood with only one way in and out: a steep back road.

"There are probably 300 houses up there," he said. "The school bus isn't running there (because) the other side of the road is too steep."

Stephens said the county bought two large chippers and is loaning them out to townships to help dispose of fallen trees and tree limbs.

Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Leo Skinner said state and federal officials will inspect the damage and may have a rough estimate of the damage and necessary repairs by the end of the week. This information will then be forwarded

to Gov. Bob Taft, who will send it on to Washington, D.C., in hopes that President Bush will declare a federal emergency.

"Once that happens, that's when federal aid becomes available," Skinner said. "That doesn't mean everyone will qualify for assistance. A lot is preliminary at this point. Once the president makes a disaster declaration, there will be a toll-free number available for people to call and apply for assistance."