CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the second day in a row, Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin was out with city emergency officials surveying the damage left behind from Monday’s tornado and performing welfare checks on citizens affected.
Goodwin and company were in the Greenbrier Street area near Yeager Airport on Wednesday and told the media that one thing was for certain as there were no casualties from the twister.
“There is no question in my mind that God was watching over Charleston, West Virginia,” she said.
“As we go from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood, you hear stories from people who were fortunately in the right place when this bad tornado and storms came through.”
As for the stories Goodwin heard?
“Folks who have just left rooms that trees have come crashing down in. Driving past roads which then ended up in a flooded mess. People watch out for people here in West Virginia but no question about, God was watching over all of us.”
Mark Strickland, Director of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, was alongside Goodwin for stops at Scenic Drive, Dudley Drive, Mayflower Drive, Nancy Street, Wertz Avenue, Rockholly Road, and Bendview Drive.
On Wednesday, the National Weather Service released more information about the EF1 tornado that first touched down in Lincoln County, northeast of Sod, with winds around 90 mph.
The twister quickly moved into Kanawha County near Alum Creek and traveled northeast at about 50 miles per hour for 11 miles. It dissipated near downtown Charleston and the Greenbrier Street area.
As of Wednesday evening, more than 3,000 Appalachian Power customers in the county remain without service, including Goodwin’s residence. At the height of the storm, more than 25,000 customers had lost power.
Goodwin said emergency and city crews are doing everything they can to help out and asks citizens to remain patient.
“We are working as fast as we can,” she said. “Our crews have been nonstop since the storm hit and we are going to continue.”
“We are running around with our wood chippers, we are trying to remove debris. We have all of our backhoes out and just trying to make sure that water is running, streets are open and they are safe and passable.”
The city of Charleston has cooling centers open for folks dealing with power problems at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center at 314 Donnally St. and the Kanawha City Community Center at 3511 Venable Ave.
At the centers, folks have been able to shower, get food and water, charge phones, and have conversation with others as temperatures rise into the 90s for most of the county this week.
Goodwin is also asking that citizens check on their neighbors, especially the elderly.
“We are trying to get to as many as possible but if you have a minute please go by and check on them. A lot of folks have lost everything in their fridge and freezer. If they don’t drive or can’t get out, call us too,” she said.
Charleston residents are asked to call the city to report trees and debris at 304-348-6850 and call the city Sanitary Board at 304-348-8136 for sewer issues.
Goodwin said the number of calls is starting to dwindle of Wednesday evening, which is good news as people are getting resources and things they need.
Even with the devastating tornado, which according to the National Weather Service was the first EF1 activity since 1998 in the Charleston area, Goodwin says it ultimately have made the city closer.
“Some of the folks I have talked to said ‘In such a bad situation, I now realize what great neighbors I have. I have never had this many in-depth conversations with my neighbors. Some of my neighbors I didn’t even know. Now that I know them we are exchanging numbers and checking each other and calling each other by our first name.’
“Yes, this was really devastating for a lot of communities, a lot of neighborhoods here in Charleston, but it also brought people together who may have never known each other before.”