A column by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Photo Courtesy of the Governor's Office
West Virginia foresters and firefighters take a break from battling the Emigrant wildfire in Montana.
Earlier this week, one special group of West Virginians returned to the Mountain State after a 14-day tour of duty fighting wildfires in Montana and Idaho. This crew, consisting of employees of the Division of Forestry and civilian firefighters, volunteered to leave their jobs and families to travel across the country to help those in need. The work crews like these do isn't easy. The work they do is hot, dangerous and grueling, but our West Virginia crews are always eager to assist. That's one of the most amazing things about this great state. Our people are always ready to lend a helping hand-whether at home or afar.
Many of these same foresters spent time last year helping their neighbors recover from the record-breaking summer derecho. Division of Forestry personnel spent more than 800 hours last summer clearing downed trees from roadways so that electric companies could access areas to restore power; all the while, many of them did not even have electricity in their own homes.
Then just a few short months later in October when much of the state experienced severe weather from Hurricane Sandy, including high winds, flooding and blizzard-like conditions, these foresters were called upon again. They waded through feet of snow to clear roads of fallen trees so that emergency service personnel could restore power and water to the hardest hit areas.
But it's not just our foresters --- our emergency responders, Department of Highways' employees, local law enforcement officers, National Guard members, church groups and community volunteers, are always on call, ready to assist in trying times. Our state has a tremendous amount of good will, and our people are always first in line to help when others need it the most.
This week as we welcome home our folks who have been helping out west, I want to thank all those who give this state its incredible reputation of having some of the friendliest and most genuine people in the world. It's truly an honor to serve as your governor.
Amy Shuler Goodwin