Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 3, 2012

Weathering the storm: Citizens give first-hand accounts

PRINCETON — A baby girl slept peacefully on a cot and enjoyed something too many of southern West Virginia’s people can’t find right now — some cool air.

Little Stormey Testerman, now a year old, was among several people taking shelter Monday at the Princeton Rescue Squad’s training center off Stafford Drive. Temperatures reaching 84 degrees were less than the high 90s hitting the region last week, but losing electricity to a powerful storm still made the heat too much for some families to endure.

Stormey’s mother, 22-year-old Karen Testerman of Brushfork, said her family had been at the shelter since Sunday evening. She summed up the reasons for seeking a cooler place.

“Too hot and not being able to take a shower, and not being able to keep my kids’ milk cool,” she said. Besides a daughter, she also has a two-year-old son who was playing nearby on another cot. The heat was too much for the children.

“Whenever I put my daughter down to sleep, she would be sweating really bad,” Testerman said.

Testerman’s mother, 56-year-old Linda Sarver of Brushfork, said they put moist rags over their heads to keep cool. Soon the heat was too much to bear. It also thawed out and ruined hundreds of dollars worth of food. After calling Mercer County 911 and the Red Cross, the family found the Princeton Rescue Squad shelter.

“I’m glad we found a place because those kids were hot,” Sarver said

The Testerman family’s neighbor, Mary Deal, 46, said she lost her electricity Friday.

“It was hard,” Deal said of the situation. “We lost all of our food and we don’t know how we’re going to replace it. I lost everything in my refrigerator and I don’t have the money to buy more when we get home. Social services said we have to get a letter from the power company — when we lost power, when it came back on, and a list of everything you lost. It’s hard to remember what you lost.”

At the nearby Princeton Salvation Army, Sara Keys, the office manager, said that people seeking to set up shelters had not contacted her organization. The Salvation Army did help the Princeton Rescue Squad with food.

“One man called and asked if we could help him with gas, but we aren’t doing gas,” she said. “I’m surprised. I really thought we would be swamped today.”

The Bluefield Union Mission placed eight people in motels, said Executive Director Craig Hammond.

“Everybody else would rather stay home, but have supplies,” Hammond said.

The Carr Memorial United Methodist Church and other churches and civil organizations have been very generous, he said. The mission has supplies of shelf-stable food that does not have to be cooked or refrigerated, small electric lantern, crank-power radios, and other supplies.

In other cases, residents are wondering how they’re going to fix storm damage or remove huge fallen trees. Sue Bolt, 68, of New Hope Road near Princeton, looked at a tall weeping willow tree that was knocked down by Friday’s storm. Rotten at the base of its trunk, it fell and narrowly missed two cars. If it had fallen the other way, it would have crushed a house. She remembered when it fell.

“Boom! Like a big explosion,” Bolt said. “It shook our houses.”


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