‘Worse than all the storms I’ve been to,’ first responder to Wayne County says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority Response Team have seen their share of disasters—-but team leader James Mason says the ice storm damage in Wayne County is unmatched.

“There’s a level of devastation that we saw in Wayne County that was worse than all the storms I’ve been to,” Mason said.

Trees had to be removed to reach homes Photo/KCEAA

Mason and crew members have responded to seven bad storms up and down the east coast in recent years. They returned back to their Charleston station Wednesday afternoon after spending nearly a week in Wayne County.

The crew, which has as many as 11 members, included medics that were part of the health and welfare crew that traveled with the National Guard to check on residents and cut down trees. They also made 911 runs.

Mason said he was amazed at how well Wayne County residents were doing given the damage.

“These are some of the most hearty, proud people you ever want to be around. They were very self-sufficient,” he said. “But anyone after 8 to 12 days without power, without food, without running water, that will take a toll on anybody.”

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Mason said he can’t get over the damage caused by the trees that couldn’t withstand the weight of the ice.

“There were trees that were exploding after coming down a couple hundred feet. My military background it feels like, it sounds like small detonations and you can feel the ground moving if you’re close enough to it,” he said.

Mason said the volume of trees was unlike he’s ever seen.

“It’s really hard to describe. I’m really grasping for words,” he said.

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