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Remembering a disaster while in the midst of another

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – June 29 2012- the night when over 75 mph winds roared through West Virginia.

“When they said it was a severe storm, they meant it. It was a pretty strong storm. At one time or another about 3/4 of the people in Kanawha County were without power,” said C.W. Sigman, director of Kanawha County Emergency Management.

No power for most of the families in the Mountain State, and some not getting it turned back on for weeks.

“It was tough because I was working outrageous hours at the time,” Sigman said. “But (my wife) was stuck at home, when she wasn’t helping me, in a hot house with no air conditioning.”

“We had been gone for two weeks,” said James Wells, who lives in Nitro.

He and his wife were just getting back from a trip to New England when the storm hit. A total of 14 trees fell on his property – and one on his house.

“Right here, we have the remaining stump of one,” he said. “I call this the ‘spider in my yard.’ You can see, I have new windows here. These were all broken out … ”

And one of those windows shattered on top of Wells.

“Right there is the stump of the big oak tree … and I was sitting right inside this window … and part of the tree hit and broke the window,” he said.

Wells wasn’t injured, but pretty shaken up.

“The window broke and pieces of glass fell into my glass of water,” he said.

Thankfully, he lives in a neighborhood where everyone looks out for one another. He says minutes after the tree fell, his neighbors came running.

They got to work, covering the Wells’ home with tarp.

“My insurance adjuster said they reduced the damage in my house,” Wells said.

But the damage didn’t stop there.

For the next roughly ten days, the Wells – like many in West Virginia – had to live without power.

“What was difficult was the heat and trying to get some reasonable rest at night,” Wells said. “With no fans, no air conditioning, sleeping on the living room floor, opening the back door and the front door … ”

Fast forward to today, and we are in another disaster.

Only this one is different.

“This is much different,” Wells said. “I have the internet, I have TV, I have air conditioning … ”

“Folks here react pretty well to disasters,” Sigman said. “We’re used to them, so they react pretty well and do the right things for the most part.”

Sigman adds it’s nice to have more instant forms of communication.

“That’s important for us — whether it’s a pandemic, a snowstorm, or a derecho — it’s important for us to get the information out on what’s coming and what to expect and the actions you need to take,” he said.

Remembering a disaster, while in the midst of another.

And this time, instead of helping your neighbors fix their damaged homes, the Governor’s Office says you can help your neighbors by wearing your mask.

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