Justice expands state of emergency; Guard gets to work

WAYNE, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice added Mason and Jackson counties to his ice storm state of emergency declaration Thursday while a team of National Guard members began to fan out in several areas impacted by the storm.

Justice’s decision frees up resources to help with response and clean-up efforts in Mason and Jackson counties. His original state of emergency earlier this week listed Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Putnam counties.

Approximately 40 Guard members were cutting down trees Thursday to help utility crews with power restoration efforts in Wayne, Cabell and Putnam counties, Colonel Wally Hatfield said.

“We have three chainsaw teams and three loader dump teams,” Hatfield said.

Several Guard health and welfare teams started to make wellness checks in Wayne County.

“There are a lot of areas still without power in Wayne County and the terrain in there is untrafficable and we’re going to push our players out there with chainsaws and see if we can make contact with residents in that community,” Hatfield said. “There is some fear that there are some elderly people there without the proper medication and without heat.”

The chainsaw teams will be cutting up trees in larger sections so they can be moved more efficiently opening up the area for power crews, Hatfield said.

The Guard is working with the Department of Highways, Department of Forestry, Appalachian Power and the state Department of Emergency Management.

“It’s all hands on deck moving forward to make this thing happen,” Hatfield said.

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