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SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. -- With no power and nearly 4 feet of snow blocking her road and drifting against her Craigsville home, Maggie Selman decided Wednesday that enough was enough and called for help.
It arrived a short time later in the form of a West Virginia National Guard search-and-extraction team.
"My neighbor got a farm tractor stuck twice trying to plow me out, but they got right down to my house and drove me and Ginger into Summersville in a Humvee."
Once in Summersville, Ginger -- Selman's part-Chihuahua, part-Jack Russell terrier, part-West Virginia brown dog companion -- took shelter in a pet shop. A few blocks away, Selman joined dozens of other Hurricane Sandy refugees being fed and housed in the Family Life Center of Summersville Baptist Church, where she remained Friday.
"I've gotten such good treatment here," said Selman, a former "Rosie the Riveter," who left her Nicholas County home to work in an Akron aircraft factory during World War II. "I could get used to people waiting on me like this," she added with a smile, "but I hear the power came back on today at my house, and I'm anxious to get Ginger and go home."
Lt. Col. Yancy Short, the leader of a five-person medical team from Charleston's 130th Airlift Wing, agreed to fulfill Selman's wish.
"I just need to make sure the power's on and your house is OK, and then we'll go," Short said.
"He's a good friend," Selman said of Short.
In fact, Short is a man of many roles, all of which come in handy during the current storm emergency. When he's not serving with the Air National Guard, Short is a Summersville surgeon and a Nicholas County commissioner.
"He's also a living GPS unit for Nicholas County," said Master Sgt. Jason Young of Cross Lanes, a member of his medical team.
Two days after Short and his team completed a recertification training exercise at Camp Dawson last weekend, they were called to active duty for storm relief in Nicholas County. Similar five-person medical teams have been assigned to Randolph and Preston counties to work with other search-and-extraction teams.
Late Wednesday, Short's team was part of a National Guard search-and-extraction crew that evacuated a snow-marooned woman with pulmonary problems from a remote area near Quinwood.
"There was probably 4 1/2 feet of snow on the ground and the roads in the area hadn't been plowed," Short said. "We met up with the EMS people at Nettie, and then we followed them and a [Division of] Highways grader that had been brought in to cut what turned out to be about a five-mile road to her home. It was cool to see everyone working in unison to get her to safety and some oxygen."
On Friday, search-and-extraction crews spent much of the day examining schools for possible signs of structural damage prior to their eventual reopening. Many of the schools also will serve as polling places during Tuesday's General Election.
"So far, we've had more than 30 structure collapses due to heavy snow, and 25 homes with trees on or through them," said Nicholas County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Carla Hennessey. Fortunately, she said, no storm-related deaths or serious injuries have been reported in the county.