The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
I woke up this past Friday with a plan. It was going to be a very important day for my family. My wife is from Lincoln County and we were going to close on a home that we have been trying desperately to get rid of and at the same time her mother’s home would be sold as well. It would allow her to move closer so that we could spend more time together. It was to be a joyous weekend that was long overdue.
Later that morning I received the news about the storm that ransacked the southern part of the state. Its impact was felt throughout the Mountain State and 44 of our 55 counties were declared by our governor to be in a state of emergency.
There is disaster somewhere every day. We see it on the news or we view a video online that describes the devastation and typically our first feeling is empathy for those involved. Once the video is over we might flashback a time or two in the next few days and we could possibly even say a prayer for those that were involved. Most of the time we lose touch with those events because they just seem so far away.
Later Friday evening we made our way down south to start packing for the move. Everything seemed fine until we drove by Clendenin. From the interstate you could see a long line of vehicles waiting to receive aid. There were multiple emergency vehicles and a help center was set up to assist those in need. It was our first live look at the after effects of the storm that dumped nine inches of rain in one hour on parts of the state. Even though it was obvious that there was something really wrong you couldn’t see the actual devastation that this story had caused.
First outside of Charleston we made a pit stop in Elkview. As soon as we took the exit the evidence appeared. The after effects were visible and the emotions of those in that area were felt. The bridge that we had crossed several times before to get to the shopping mall was no longer there. Approaching the caution tape is never a good thing as tragedy is most generally found just beyond it and this time was no different. The gaping hole was West Virginia’s Grand Canyon in terms of interest. Besides police and other first responders that guarded the area there were spectators lined up three deep to take in the view of the area where the bridge once was. We settled on the gas station just across the street and I fought the crowd to purchase petrol. I began to see the direct devastation of the night before. Several of those there were covered in mud from head to toe. They wore blank looks on their faces and the pain could be felt by those like me that were just passing through.
I was able to leave that place as soon as my tank was full but they couldn’t. They were living that nightmare and they couldn’t simply turn off the news because they were the story.
I felt helpless there and I knew that a smile or a couple of kind words just weren’t enough but I didn’t know what else to do in that moment.
Thank God there were those that did know exactly what to do and how to react. There have been several first responders from our county that have jumped right into the fire to help those in need. They are the teammates that all of us want on our squad. They are the first pick in everyone’s draft. They go to bat for us every day but at the same time if a road trip is warranted, they aren’t’ afraid to take it.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of those that have been affected by this tragedy. My sincerest thank you goes out to all of those that work to help all of us when we are truly in need.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!