ODD, W.Va. — Two communities hit hard by tornadoes last week in southern West Virginia are struggling to get back to normal.
An EF-1 tornado touched down between Spanishburg and Matoaka in Mercer County Oct. 7. That same night an EF-2 twister slashed through the community of Odd in Raleigh County. Even though the tornadoes were isolated, they left behind areas of destruction.
Odd was hit the hardest with winds gusting up to 125 mph. Trees were knocked down, homes damaged and utilities cut off to the community.
John Zilinski, Raleigh County’s Office of Emergency Management Director, was impacted by the storm.
“I’m right in with that community. I live right in the middle of where this struck. It hit home and we’re trying to get all the assistance we can get,” said Zilinski.
State road crews have come through and cleared trees out of the roads. Appalachian Power has been able to restore service to about two dozen customers. However, Dan Page with Frontier Communications said they are still struggling to get their customers back on line.
“It’s tough to get in and out of there and the terrain doesn’t make it any easier,” he stressed.
In fact, Page said it could be another 10 days before they’re able to restore service. That’s because they have to replace 25 poles.
“Getting those poles into a very rugged area is challenging. Then you have to get the cable mounted on the poles. That also takes some time,” explained Page. “We have 20 to 25 folks working as long as they can each day to get that job done.”
Over the weekend, a group of Mennonites out of Virginia came to Odd to help with the clean up effort.
“They came in Saturday with two Bobcats and two chainsaw crews. They assisted residents in moving debris away from their homes and front yards so they can get to their residence in ease,” according to Zilinski.
On Tuesday, residents were looking for wood chippers to help take care of the brush and downed limbs that still litter the area. Zilinski said the community has a long road ahead.
“You do see the light (at the end of the tunnel) but it will take years of recovery for this. As much damage as has been done to people’s forests, to people’s yards, it will take a lot of rebuilding on this,” said the OEM Director.