Craig County pulls together during storm aftermath
NEW CASTLE – Craig County neighbors pulled together to help each other in the wake of the June 29 severe windstorm that wiped out electricity and communications to much of the county at the same time that near-100 degree temperatures rolled in.
A cooling center with meals and overnight sleeping areas opened at Craig County High School Sunday, and about 20 people stayed overnight the first night, said Simmonsville District Board of Supervisors’ Member Martha Murphy. Murphy volunteered through the day and night, as a recently certified first responder.
Although Appalachian Power service was out, the high school has electricity because it is served by the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative. Emergency Services Director Jim Cady said the shelter at the high school, where the Salvation Army set up its mobile kitchen Monday morning, would remain open through the week until power was restored.
Appalachian Power officials estimated that might not be until Saturday, July 7. Meanwhile, temperature forecasts were for mid-90s for the rest of the week.
Elderly residents with conditions affected by the heat and especially those who needed breathing treatments were of particular concern. Craig County Rescue Squad members and volunteers started doing door-to-door wellness checks the morning after the storm, and began providing breathing treatments and other aid at the crew hall in New Castle.
Sunday afternoon about 4 p.m. a cooling center opened in Craig County High School’s cafeteria where people were donating food, water and other assistance.
Speaking for her fellow members of the Craig County Board of Supervisors and from her observations, Murphy praised how people all over Craig County pitched in to help each other.
“People have showed up to help. The Rescue Squad was just fantastic. Neighbors are checking in on neighbors. They’re helping each other out,” Murphy explained.
And she added, “The new library manager, Carla Old, came to the high school center and brought large-print books and games, things to help people stay calm and entertained.”
Cady said the shelter set up at the high school had room to sleep about 50 people.
Murphy said “Many folks went to the shelter on Sunday and came back on Monday morning to get cool, for the companionship and to get something to eat.”
The Salvation Army’s mobile kitchen provided breakfast which was delivered to New Castle Commons, a senior living facility in the former New Castle High School.
Murphy said the Salvation Army anticipated providing 150 lunches at the high school and another 150 dinners.
“People’s needs don’t have to be medical to go to the emergency shelter at the high school,” she said.
After the storm with its winds estimated at 80 mph hit on Friday night about 9 p.m., Craig County’s infrastructure was hit the hardest, right there in New Castle, Murphy pointed out. “Radio frequencies were hit and the messages could not be transferred. We just kept trying each day, and par of the county’s power and communications came back up.”
“We’re just really making the best of it,” Murphy added. “Out of bad comes good. It’s amazing how many people are offering to help.”
For more photographs of storm damage and people helping each other, see the July 11 issue of The New Castle Record.
People who do have electricity and Internet access can check on areas and estimates when power is expected to be restored by going to www.appalachianpower.com. under outages.