MAN, W.Va. — Members of the Man Volunteer Fire Department are used to arriving on the scene after a disaster, but last Friday, they got a front row seat to watch one.
“I actually have pictures of the roof of the Man Clothing Building coming off. We were standing less than 40 feet away when it came off,” said T.J. Vance, Lieutenant with the Man VFD.
Vance and his crew had just returned from responding to a car wreck before the storm struck. The powerful winds have since been categorized by the National Weather Service as a microburst. According to meteorologists who took at look at the damage and the data, the winds were in the range of 80 to 90 miles an hour. Vance wouldn’t argue with that.
“I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like that. I know they didn’t classify it as a tornado, but it felt like one. The winds picked up super fast, the rain picked up, and it was like something you see in a movie,” he said.
The storm struck around 2:18 p.m., according to the weather service. Vance said it lasted between five and eight minutes and was gone as quickly as it struck. However, the damage left behind was substantial. The roof of the clothing building lay scattered in the town’s main street. Up the street an out building was flipped over on a vehicle and at least one house incurred significant roof damage.
“As soon as the roof came of, we jumped into action. The rain hadn’t even stopped and the wind hadn’t even died down. We knew we had a big problem on our hands and a lot of work cut out for us,” he explained.
The fire crew did its best to provide service to all victims in town. Their immediate concern was injuries and public safety. Thankfully nobody was hurt. The attention then turned toward damage assessment and clean up which continues today.
Mingo State of Emergency
Meanwhile, Gov. Jim Justice issued a state of emergency Monday afternoon in connection with the storm damage in Mingo County. The decision will allow state resources to more readily respond to the county to help with assessment and cleanup.
The declaration will be in effect for 30 days unless Justice lifts it before then.