January 12, 2014

By:  Rob Jones

After seeing the story about the chemical spill in the Charleston, WV area, I couldn’t help but wonder about that type of thing happening all over America. My thoughts and prayers are certainly with the 300,000 plus West Virginian’s struggling to go about their day to day routines, as I’m sure many of us are sending many of those. The emergency began Thursday following complaints to West Virginia American Water about a “licorice-type odor” in the tap water. The source: the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River. State officials said Saturday they believe about 7,500 gallons leaked from the Freedom Industries plant in Charleston. Some of the chemical was contained before flowing into the Elk River; it’s not clear exactly how much entered the water supply. I didn’t have any idea of what the chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, is. After some checking, I found that it is a foaming agent used in coal processing.

Residents in about nine counties have been told not to drink, bathe in, or wash their dishes or clothes with their water, which could only be used for flushing toilets. That order, as I mentioned, is effecting about 300,000 people. Nearly every restaurant has been closed since Saturday, unable to use water to prepare food, wash dishes or clean employees’ hands. Area hotels have emptied and foot traffic is down at many retail stores. As you can see, this accident has affected much of our Great State, our States’ economy, and worse, several hundred thousand people. All of this brings me to my topic today… Survival.

When most people think of survival, they immediately think of living without electricity, fully stocked grocery stores, gasoline, medicine, and drinking water. The problem with that, is that if even one of those is disrupted for any extended period of time, what do you do? Do you and family and friends have a survival plan, in place, with extra food, water, and gasoline? Maybe a power generator? What about a book about what plants can be used as food, as well as natural health remedies? These things get taken for granted, when we watch the evening news and see things happening everywhere, but in our own back yards. Is very easy for us to say, “Wow, that’s sad, but it never happens here”. The stark reality is, it just did happen here. Right in our very own back yards. The Canned Food Alliance recommends the minimum amount of two cans of food per day, per person and the minimum of one of drinking water per day, per person. For most disasters, they recommend a minimum of three days preparation. This should include a sufficient food supply and a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day. (Do not forget a manual can opener!!)

Darren Hardman, one of my best friends, is a Veteran of both the United States Marines and the United States Army. I’ve known Darren for over eleven years and would trust him with my life, without hesitation. Darren has a knack for thinking “outside of the box” and seeing things that others may miss. Darren is a family man, hunts, fishes, and spends much time out doors. This guy knows a thing or two about survival. Darren has a facebook page, “D’s survival 101″, which can be found at ““. Please stop by, add him as a friend, and feel free to browse his page. There is a wealth of information to be had, by all! Whether you’re a novice, have some skills, or you are an expert, you can pick up something.

What I love about Darren’s page, is that he covers many facets of survival, not just food and water. He has links to using nature for medical remedies, building a fire from nothing, protecting your home with trip wire alarms, and ways to hide your food and water, as well as weapons for both protection and food. You can even write Darren a message and ask specific survival related questions. I can promise you this, if he doesn’t have an answer for you, he’ll find you an answer. More than likely, he’ll find you several answers and tell you to try them all, mix and match, and go with what works best for you.

As a side note, Darren and some of his friends and family, have taken up a collection of food, water, cash donations, baby formula/food, wipes, and various other items, to be delivered to the needy people of the Elk River area. Not because he is getting anything, but because he felt the need to help those, who are in need. From what I understand, there are people in that are, right now, gouging residents on water and food. Why anyone would take gross advantage of someone in an emergency situation, is something that I can’t grasp, but disgusts me. Darren and his crew were taking four loaded trucks, with trailers, down today to help. I feel horrible for not having the names of everyone involved, as I think they should be recognized for their selfless act of kindness. I will get a full list of names and as soon as I can. I can simply say, thank you and God Bless to all of them. I can only imagine how appreciative those folks will be.

In closing, please visit Darren’s page, take a look around, and feel free to ask questions. Also, take a good look at the people of the Elk River area and what they are currently going through. That could just as easily happen here, with the Tygart River, or where you live. Are you and your loved ones prepared for that kind of emergency? Think about that for a few minutes. For myself, I’m going to start buying a few extra cans of meats and vegies, to set aside. I’ve procrastinated long enough. As a father, I have a responsibility to my children. As a son, I have a responsibility to my folks.  As a friend, I have a responsibility to my friends. As a police officer, a public servant, I have a responsibility my community. I truly hope that someone gets something from this column and runs with it. If you see Darren and company, along I79 or in the Elk River area, say thank you them, for a job well done. If you see people, in those same areas, gouging residents over drinking water… Well, at least give them a piece of your mind and let them know how disappointed West Virginia is with them, as that goes against everything that real West Virginian’s stand for.

After publishing this column yesterday, I spoke with Darren and was given a list of some of the people that were involved in this trip to the Elk River area, to deliver water and supplies. I felt bad not being able to thank each one, so I wanted to back and edit this, so that I can add their names, as they all deserve it. These are in no certain order: Adam Perine and Davina Keith, for the use of their trailers on short notice. Joe and Sherrie Whiteman-Baldwin for the use of their trailer. Geoff Swiger, for the use of his trailer. Jewel City Church of Shinnston, for the donation to get started and the use of their church as a drop off point. Amy Moore, for manning that site. Stop-N-Shoppe of Lost Creek, and Crystal Martin for their help. Momma Duck’s Treasures, LLC, for their help. Laura Pysz and Bridgeport Volunteers in Police Service, for their help. Julie Perine, with Connect Bridgeport. All of the workers of Maranatha Fellowship Church, of St. Albans, that helped unload everything. Melissa Wilson, Robbie Faber, Gary Whiteman, Darren Hardman, Cindy Flaherty, Bethany Trace, Jeane Huong, Tran and Jeremy Snyder, and Renee Henning. I’ve probably missed someone here and my sincere apologies if I have. All of these people, and more, gave of themselves to assist fellow West Virginian’s, who were down and needed it. It’s the little acts of selfless, and thankless kindness, that go unnoticed, that seem to mean the most. Even though these fine men and women didn’t this for the admiration, we all should be proud of them. These men and women are just an example of the type people West Virginian’s are. I want to say thank you to every one of these people. A simple Thank you doesn’t seem enough though. But then, this is exactly the kind of people, most of us are, or should want to be. May God look over those 300,000 people of the Elk River area.  God Bless You! God Bless West Virginia! God Bless America!



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