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Tyler County residents rise to the occasion

By Staff | Jul 3, 2012

Sistersville resident Todd Tippins helps a neighbor by removing a tree from the roof of a house near Stocking Avenue.

Grocery store employees handing out perishable goods for free. Gas station owners running their gas pumps on generators. Neighbors checking in on the elderly. Motorists clearing the path for an ambulance in the midst of the storm. Restaurants donating free food to emergency shelters.

These were the stories circulating throughout the area in the wake of a devastating storm that left many roads impassable and thousands of Tyler County without power for days. Still, in the midst of the chaos, good samaritans rose to the occasion.

Tyler County Sheriff Earl P. “Bob” Kendle, Jr. said his deputies encountered several local residents Friday evening as they were responding to calls around throughout county. “The public helped out, as they always do,” he said. “Given the situation, things are going surprisingly well.”

The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office is thankful for those who showed up with tractors and chainsaws to help clear roads for emergency personnel Friday evening. “A tree fell on a vehicle along W.Va. 18,” Kendle said. “But people didn’t wait for the Department of Highways to clear the way. They helped the deputies remove debris from the road so the ambulance could get through.”

The driver of the vehicle and one passenger were transported for medical treatment.

SHELTER OPEN — Sistersville Fire Chief Steve Leasure talks to Emergency Shelter Volunteer Cassie Cockerham. The shelter served more than 50 residents seeking an escape from the heat by providing an air conditioned space. The Wells Inn donated food. Cockerham was one of 16 volunteers who helped with the effort.

Bill Witschey was praised by local residents for his reaction to the lack of power at his grocery store. Instead of throwing away the perishable items in his coolers and freezers, he gave them away. Witschey and his staff also aided shoppers, a few at a time, so they could shop for other goods. And with no electricity to power the cash registers, they tallied up the bills using a pen and paper.

Tim Cozad commented, “I personally think Bill Witschey should be recognized for all of they cold items that he gave away. I have yet to hear of WalMart handing out their cold items. I am sure Walmart could replenish a lot quicker than Witschey’s could.”

Paden City resident Linda Forrester was also grateful for the service she received at Witschey’s. “Witschey’s stayed open every day through this disaster. It’s a shame that Wal-Mart, with the resources they have available to them, abandoned us. They just closed their doors, with no explanation.”

Other area businesses made use of there resources, as well. The Wells Inn used their perishable food items to prepare a buffet for area residents looking for a hot meal. In addition, owners Charles and Kim Winslow donated food to the Sistersville Fire Department’s emergency shelter.

Aside from warm food and cold drinks, the shelter provided resident with an air conditioned place to escape the sweltering heat.

Kiley Morse remarked, “Thanks to Sistersville fire department for giving people a place to go and cool off and a place people could use electricity for medical purposes!”

Sistersville American Legion Post #67 opened their hot dog stand to feed residents in search of food, also.

One theme stayed true from one end of the county to the other: neighbors were helping neighbors. Tonya Tippins commented, “Neighbors pulling together and helping other is what it’s all about in time of need.”

Tristina Howard said she was thankful to Ben Placer for allowing her family to keep some food in his freezer while the power was out.

Emily Kupferer was thankful for her neighbors, Rex and Retta Kisner. “They took turns hooking us and others up to their generator so we wouldn’t lose food in our (refrigerators) and freezers.,” she explained. “They did this all day Saturday and part of Sunday. Rex drove all the way to Elm Grove to get gas to keep his generator running for everyone. Great neighbors! We are very thankful.”

Brandi Murray, who has four children at home including a newborn born premature, is thankful for her aunt, Liz Riggs, who drove over four hours to deliver gatorade, water and a generator to the family. She was also grateful for her grandmother, Betty Troups. “She not only opened her house to us when her electric came on, but she has cooked for us and taken wonderful care of her ever so large family,” Murray said.