West Virginia Air National Guard: Picking Up the Pieces

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rachel L. Hughey
  • 130 AW Public Affairs

Members of the West Virginia Air National Guard are responding to local community clean-up after flooding devastated the area on June 23, 2016.

The WVANG has extensive experience with flood duty and other types of disaster response. Many Airmen responded to Hurricane Katrina and have continued to build upon this experience when responding in their home state.   

Several members from the 130th Airlift Wing and the 167th Airlift Wing worked tirelessly to clean up debris from homes along Reynolds Avenue in Elkview, W.Va. on June 28, 2016.  Like so many others, Shirley Cobb, 85, has extensive damage to her home, but she hopes to move back in after repairs have been made.  She is currently staying with her daughter, Jeanne Belcher and they were both grateful for the help provided by Guard members in the clean-up process.

This particular clean-up crew consists of heavy equipment operators who have been working in Clendenin and in Elkview. 

"These are some of the best Airmen I've ever worked with; you tell them to do something and they do it," said Capt. Lori Wyatt from the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, W.Va. 

She was honored to be able to volunteer and to let the community know that the Guard wanted to be there to help.

"It's the worst flood I've ever seen, but I'm amazed at the high spirits of people who have lost everything," said Tech. Sgt. Caleb Brown, 130 AW, Civil Engineering Squadron.

Brown has taken an estimated 40 truckloads averaging two tons per load to Elkview Middle School where a mound of rubble continues to grow.  He and his crew have been working 12 to 14-hour days to help with debris clean-up. 

"The people in the community thank us for helping and we reassure them that we will be here until the job is done," he said. 

Senior Airman Logan Mahaney 130th AW, Civil Engineering Squadron said, "There are a lot of different emotions. This is more devastation than I have ever seen. I hate this for the people who have lost everything but love being able to help them." 

Mahaney also said this was his first time volunteering for flood duty and he would stay as long as needed to finish the job.

Members of WVANG have always answered the call to nation and community. They are the "Best of the best" and will continue to aid in the relief efforts as directed by leadership to pick up the pieces and help rebuild these communities.