Kiahsville resident rescued by West Virginia National Guard members
KIAHSVILLE, W.Va. (March 7, 2012) -- On the evening of March 2, Janet Lynn Porterfield, 55, of Kiahsville, W.Va., was doing something most of the state was doing: watching the development of a tornado on TV.
But unlike most of the state, as she watched the hook of the tornado begin to develop on the television screen, Porterfield heard the roar of the tornado as it approached her house. “I told my nephew to grab the kids and I ran into the bedroom, pulled a mattress off the bed, and pulled it over top us as we crouched underneath the stairs,” Porterfield said. The tornado hovered over Porterfield’s house for a mere minute and -- in the first few seconds of the aftermath -- it appeared that nothing had been damaged.
“I walked to front door and my mouth dropped open,” Porterfield said. “All the beautiful, strong trees were gone. Even in the dark, I knew the tornado had wiped out the entire valley.” The tin roof was stripped from the house and one of the bedroom walls was carried away like feathers on the wind. After the wind subsided, the rain began and as the night drew on, the rain turned into snow.
“It was the worst minute of my life,” Porterfield exclaimed. “I wondered whether March was going to come in as a lamb or a lion and on the second day, it came in roaring.” The following morning, Porterfield’s nephew began the long hike out of the devastated valley with his wife and two children to seek help. Porterfield, suffering from arthritis, was unable to make the trek. She remained in her home without food, water or power.
“A few department of highway guys told us that an elderly woman was stranded in her house,” explained Spc. Shaun Olds, a heavy equipment operator with the 821st Engineer Company, Summersville, W.Va.
After two days of clearing trees out of the road, Olds was able to drive a humvee all the way down to the house to pick up Porterfield and bring her to safety. “She was very excited when she saw the humvee,” Olds said. “She thanked us repeatedly but we were just glad to see she was okay and in good spirits.” Porterfield and her nephew are currently in the process of acquiring materials to rebuild the roof. While the task of cleaning up the downed trees and strewn materials is overwhelming, Porterfield keeps a smile on her face as she cleans up the yard, one artifact after another. “There’s nothing left to do but smile and get on with the work,” she said.