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Mason County officials: storm cleanup could take weeks

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 12:02 AM EST
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MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Though the winter weather is done for the time being, the work to clean up the mess left behind is far from it.

“When (the other storm) came through the other day (it) basically dropped a bombshell of ice over the Leon, Arbuckle area,” said Dennis Zimmerman, director of Emergency Services in Mason County. “So we have one portion of the northeast (in the county) that got hit very hard with (one storm) and still recovering. (Then, the) south part of the county from (the most recent storm). So basically I got two areas of the county that are really hard hit.”

Firefighters with the Leon Fire Department and Valley Fire Department have been working everyday to try and cut trees and clear roadways to help assist AEP and DOH workers. Point Pleasant Fire Department and Flatrock Fire Department also helped with the cleanup.

“The issue is, they’re volunteer fire departments, a lot of them have jobs they have to go to,” Zimmerman said. “So we’re just trying to get as much manpower as we can to get the roads open so AEP can go in and do their job to restore power.”

On Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice declared Mason and Jackson counties under a State of Emergency.

The state says they received a request for more assistance from Mason County late Wednesday night. Zimmerman told WSAZ he was pleased to find that the governor added their county to the list.

“The fire departments have been working nonstop for five days with no relief and we’ve been trying to cycle crews (but the) biggest thing is we need more,” Zimmerman told WSAZ. “The damage in the Leon, Arbuckle area, without getting those roads clear, we could be looking at three to four weeks without power for for those people.”

He also said just because the weather has calmed down for now, doesn’t mean trees are through falling.

“What’ll happen is as the snow and ice melts, the trees start to release from the weight (and) that’s when a lot of times you’ll have even more damage from the snow and ice melting,” he said. “The tree (will try and) pop back to its original position.”

Some Mason County firefighters have also had to add helping other emergency vehicles to their list since some patients needing help may be in an area where trees are blocking them in.

“We’ve been able to get to every patient we needed to but we needed those fire departments with their pickup trucks (and) cutting pads. Or going up to the residence because, obviously, we couldn’t get our ambulance up there (so, firefighters have been going) up to the residence getting the patient and bringing them back to us.”

Zimmerman also reminded residents to not use propane heaters or grills for an alternative heat source, as these can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Crews from the Leon Fire Department and Valley Fire Department said they will be out again on Friday chopping more trees and clearing roads.

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