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County continues work cleaning up storm’s aftermath

A disaster declaration has been approved by the Lawrence County Commissioners in light of this weekend’s massive countywide storm damage.

The declaration was made at the commission’s Tuesday work session at the request of County Engineer Doug Cade.

Doing that expedites bringing needed resources into the county to aid residents.

As of Tuesday night 85 percent of the county roads blocked by fallen trees and debris were expected to be clear, Cade said.

“We have been clearing the roads as quickly as we can,” he told the commission. “We are getting there. It has been pretty challenging with the heat. After 10 a.m. it gets really hot.”

County crews started assessing and clearing away damage at 7 p.m. Friday, just about an hour after the destructive storm hit, working through the night until 5 a.m. Saturday.

They were back to work at noon Saturday working to 7 p.m., then all day Sunday and Monday, Cade said.

As of Tuesday morning there were still six roads blocked by trees because power lines were caught in them. AEP must remove the lines before crews can open up the roadways.

“In the rural areas, most people came out and cut the wood up for firewood,” Cade said. “That really helped us.”

The county requested a local gas supplier supply 2,500 gallons of fuel for a generator at Union-Rome Sewer District and worked with AEP to get power restored to Hecla Water Association.

Cade urged those residents without power to contact AEP or Buckeye Rural Electric.

“There are small pockets and they need to report that over the website or by calling,” he said.

Cade and EMS director Buddy Fry gave public accolades to emergency responders this weekend including Emergency Management Agency director Mike Boster, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and 911 dispatchers.

Besides answering a record volume of emergency calls, the county’s EMS responded in mutual aid to a request by Cabell Huntington Hospital to move neonatal patients to another facility after the hospital’s backup generator failed.

On Monday social workers at the Department of Job and Family Services processed between 450 and 500 requests for food replacement from its clients, according to director Gene Myers.

Since the emergency situation happened at the end of the month Myers expects that 15 percent of the food allotment will be replaced for those making applications.

He expects the total numbers of requests for food to reach 1,000.

“After all the infrastructure (is repaired), they will have to replace their food,” he said.

Clients have 10 days to apply for a food allotment replacement.