Parks crew helps Appalachians dig out
Appalachia residents, overwhelmed by two weeks of vicious weather, welcomed volunteers from near and far as they dug out from more than two feet of snow.
Some of the farthest-traveling volunteers were a Virginia Service and Conservation Corps crew based at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion.
The three women and two men started working their way down Appalachia’s Spruce Street at 8 a.m. last Thursday after leaving Marion at 5 p.m. the day before. The first thing they did, crew leader Bailey McDade of Fairfax said, was to dig a car out of “8,000 feet” of snow.
Among the grateful residents was Janice Parsons. “They’re the answer to my prayer,” Parsons said while chatting with crew members Ian Dacey of Glen Allen and Shanique Wilson of Baton Rouge, La. as they cleared snow from her front stoop.
“I prayed this morning that somebody could get my car out,” Parsons said, noting that her son started the task but that the extra help made it a success. “They couldn’t accept money, but hot chocolate they couldn’t turn down,” Parsons added.
The Appalachia mission was the first time a Virginia State Parks VSCC crew has been deployed to assist a community, according to Department of Conservation and Recreation public relations specialist Jim Meisner. “This was our first deployment for disaster relief,” as McDade put it. “Some people told us they haven’t been able to leave the house for a week.”
The Virginia State Parks VSCC was created last November to assist with large parks projects such as trail creatin and maintenance, but they are also able to seve as quick-response teams for communities.
Crew members receive extensive training, including CPR, first aid and chainsaw certification.
Assistance for Appalachia was requested and efforts were coordinated by Virginia’s Office of Volunteer and Community Service, Virginia State Parks, and Lenowisco Executive Director Glen “Skip” Skinner.
The crew, which also includes Kenneth Goode of Princeton, W.Va. and Megan Gray of Virginia Beach, left Appalachia late Friday, but stood ready to return if needed, McDade said.