The numbers are astounding.
79 mile-per-hour winds.
27 West Virginia counties without power.
5 other states hit by the same storm.
220 campers lodged at Camp Twin Creeks, but also 400 Boy Scouts camping at Dilley's Mill.
11 days for some county residents to be without power-241 Mon Power customers still without electricity Tuesday morning, 118 of them in the hardest-hit Hillsboro area.
Nature's Mountain Playground became Mother Nature's mountain playground on June 29. And by all accounts, she wasn't happy. A fierce storm called a derecho ripped through an area 150 miles wide, toppling trees, lifting roofs from structures and leaving about 280,000 Monongahela Power Company customers powerless.
Pocahontas County was in crisis mode for more than a week, but residents rose to the occasion in many ways.
ﾑWe've been here around the clock'
At Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday, people were getting water, taking showers and doing laundry.
Fire Chief Charlie Wilfong said the story began on Friday, when a group of firefighters were just shooting the breeze at McCoy's Market. The power went out, and they all headed home to take care of things.
Wilfong said troubles began to mount with the pressure of the storm.
Trees began to break off, the roof at Hillsboro School was lifted from the structure and flew through the air, landing warped on the playground. Some firefighters left the station to evaluate the roof situationwhen, at just about the height of that storm, they were called out to Sam Walker's home on Hamrick Street for a fire.
Lightning had struck Walker's gas line and putting out the fire itself took no more than turning off the gas, Wilfong said. But being in the midst of the storm was a warning for what was to come.
Firefighter Matt Workman couldn't get out of his driveway because of downed trees and rode his four-wheeler to the station from his home on Denmar Road.
The station's generator wouldn't start, so Wilfong went home to get his.
And then, it was over-at least the storm part.
But a lot of things were just beginning.
Firefighters went out to check on area residents and the damage from the storm.
"We had a crew cutting trees with the [Division of Highways]," Wilfong said. The next morning, they began welfare checks "with no resources, at first," he said. " [But residents] weren't in bad shape yet."
Things started to escalate quickly.
Bottled water for distribution came from Kroger and Lowes in Fairlea and Lewisburg.
Wilfong said Daniel Hollandsworth started helping farmers get generators started to get water to cattle.
By Thursday, stress levels in the Hillsboro area were higher, Wilfong said. People had lost water, electricity, Internet and telephone communications, he said, and in the heat of the week when temperatures reached the mid-90s, the loss of air conditioning added to the stress.
"All these problems are now multiplying," he said.
Gasoline was a "real big issue," he said.
In spite of the stress, the heat and the number of hours he'd worked, Wilfong was in good spirits and had some compliments to hand out, along with bottled water and shower availability.
McCoy's Market has been wonderful, he said. [Chief Deputy] Dave Walton-"excellent." Wilfong also praised Sheriff David Jonese for his leadership, and said the National Guard was a "blessing." Denmar Correctional Center offered what limited resources it could with no power, he said.
"The Pretty Penny stepped up with free meals," Wilfong continued, with help from AmeriCorps interns from High Rocks for Girls. "The Town of Hillsboro is allowing us to get water."
All in all, Wilfong said he thought community response had been tremendous. "A lot of people stepped up," he said.
And through all the storm-related troubles, the rescue squad went on about 72 ambulance runs, with about five of those being heat-related.
"We've been here around the clock," Wilfong said. "We've [done everything] from watering horses to repairing generators. We're trying to provide comfort."
Wilfong also had high praise for his squad and their families.
He said Hillsboro's volunteers had left their own home lives for the betterment of their community, and their families were understanding while they did it.
"Somebody's at home putting gas in their generators," Wilfong said. "Everybody's coming together. I have a whole lot of admiration for these people."
Wilfong said 27,000 gallons of water had been distributed from Hillsboro Fire and Rescue station.
ﾑPerson after person after person'
Down the street at the Pretty Penny Caf�, Blair Campbell was in charge of a crew of her own staff, AmeriCorps interns and community volunteers who pitched in to cook food donated by the Pocahontas County Board of Education and people who were losing the food stored in their freezers, as well as from local gardeners.
"So many people have helped," Campbell said. "Person after person after person."
Outside, Alice Arbuckle was cooking up beef and pork on a smoker grill. Inside, gas stoves were loaded with pots and pans full of food, and Kim Walton and Ellie Lee-Wasson, along with several others were in the kitchen washing vegetables and dishes, while tables in the dining room had local residents partaking of the free food coming from the kitchen.
"Anybody who did anything did it because that's what they know to do," Campbell said. "They're all just working themselves to death. I don't feel like I did much more than say ﾑyes.'"
High Rocks sent all its resources, Campbell said.
Lee-Wasson said Abby Kendall had been in the kitchen for four days straight, and the Chief Deputy got another pat on the back.
"He's been here in two seconds with whatever we need," Lee-Wasson said.
All food was donated, Campbell said, and what's left over will go to the local food pantry.
Campbell also had some praise to dish up-for Doug Lantz at Lantz Funeral Home and folks from Seneca Mental Health, Clarissa Smallridge and Jillian Lacasse, who came to talk to people and help them deal with their stress levels. Her volunteer list is a long one, but for the ice scoopers, the cooks, the clean up people and everyone who lent a hand, Campbell said she was very grateful.
Rt. 219 Project AmeriCorps intern Emily Newton said the community effort was "really noteworthy."
In light of the fact that in other areas, gas stations were shut down because of fights, Newton said the experience in Hillsboro was even more phenomenal.
"So many people brought food from their personal freezers," she said. "Thousands of dollars and pounds of meat."
With no typical forms of communication available, she said word got around quickly about the food project at The Pretty Penny.
Pretty Penny waitress Tasha Dunbrack said Campbell had decided to open during the weekend, and got enough supplies, a generator and some ice so that she could open by 1 p.m. on Monday.
"She said, ﾑif I bring the food from the school, can you find people?'" Dunbrack said. And find them she did.
One man brought three bags of snap peas from his garden; bushels of cucumbers accumulated, along with greens and vegetables. Some of the vegetables came from the High Rocks Garden, some from the garden planted by students at Marlinton Middle School and some from the Good Earth Garden at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace.
"All of that was real food we were cooking with love and care," Newton said. "The community has a really personal way of providing for themselves."
Help came from unlikely sources, like health inspector David Henderson, who helped with getting quickly ripening bananas from McCoy's Market for pudding and eight boxes of cold apples and oranges. And from a man who wanted to be called "Cookie" who showed up to wash dishes for a couple of hours and ended up working every day.
When supplies like flour ran low for the 200 pounds of blueberry cobbler the workers made, Newton said they crumbled graham crackers donated by the board of education to make flour.
Dunbrack said the restaurant was also a communication center, with people dropping by to say how and where to get necessities. Sheila Rose came by with a prayer list sheet so people could add names.
The Pretty Penny crew has some pretty incredible numbers of its own:
500 volunteer hours.
372 miles driven to deliver meals.
$1,462 raised for Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department.
All of that in 54 hours over five days.
Newton said that amounted to a meal prepared every minute.
"Everybody's been very grateful, " Dunbrack said.
Pamela Pritt can be reached at email@example.com