Heavy snow kills 5 in W. Va., including candidate Rose

The effects from Sandy continues as heavy snowfall came down in North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

PHILLIPI, W.Va. – West Virginia officials said Wednesday that superstorm Sandy had killed five residents, including a legislative candidate, caused several buildings to collapse, knocked out power to thousands and left others stranded by impassable roads.

Those killed include two Barbour County men, including Republican House of Delegates candidate John Rose Sr.

Barbour County Emergency Services Director Cindy Hart said each died Tuesday in separate weather-related accidents.

A 40-year-old woman died after her car collided with a cement truck Monday in Tucker County. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office was seeking details regarding the other two deaths, spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said.

Officials in Nicholas County said eight structures collapsed under the weight of heavy snow but that no one was injured.

County Emergency Service Director Carla Hennessey said the collapses began Tuesday and involved an apartment complex, a grocery store, two convenience stores, a hardwood plant and three homes. She said the second floor of the apartment complex in Summersville collapsed onto the first and that its 72 residents were taken to shelters or went to be with relatives.

Hennessey said the storm left snow drifts as high as 5 feet in Richwood and 3 feet in Summersville.

"It's been really hard to check on our residents," she said. "Nicholas County is a widespread county. Even our primary roads have been impassable at times. We're just now getting into some secondary routes to check on people."

At least 36 roads remained closed in West Virginia. In Barbour County, U.S. 119 north from Buckhannon to Philippi was lined with toppled trees and snapped limbs. The limbs that were still attached drooped low over the road with heavy wet snow.

Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins said the situation is more dramatic on back roads, where many people are cut off by downed trees in both directions.

"We have areas in the county where we know people are stranded with trees down on both sides of them," he said. "They can't get out in either direction, and they have no phones, no power, no anything.

"We haven't gotten into those rural areas yet to try to locate anybody who needs help."

Cell phone service in Philippi failed Tuesday night, and land lines are down, so Hawkins is concerned about those who can't communicate.

Most people had ample warning of the storm and time to prepare.

"People did go out and stock up on groceries. They stocked up on fuel. So I think they will be pretty well prepared," Hawkins said. "But you have elderly people who are on oxygen and medications, and they have limited supplies. So that's a concern."

Details of the deaths were slow to trickle in, partially because of the communication issues.

George Rose told The Associated Press his 60-year-old father was checking fences on his 100-acre property near Philippi around 2 p.m. Tuesday when a falling tree limb struck him.

The elder Rose was with his wife when their all-terrain vehicle became stuck, the son said. She had begun walking away from the ATV as he tried backing it up, George Rose said.

"She heard the limb break, but she had already walked a little ways. She didn't think anything of it, and didn't realize that anything was wrong. But then she saw he wasn't coming," the younger Rose said. "It was a big limb. ... I don't even think he knew it hit him."

Rose was running in the House's 47th District. He was known at the Legislature as an advocate of deer farms, where captive herds are bred for hunting, as livestock and for commercial products.

"The whole county knew him," George Rose said. "He got a lot of other deer farmers started."

Lt. Phil Ferguson, a 46-year-old Barbour County sheriff's deputy, has known Rose, his wife and their three children his whole life.

"He was a real nice fellow. He would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him," Ferguson said. "He was just a real fine fellow."

His name will remain on the ballot, but there will be a special write-in period.

Rose had run a power-washing business and worked as a coal miner before starting a deer farm four or five years ago, Ferguson said. Rose had just acquired elk and was expanding his business, raising the animals and selling them to private hunting operations in Pennsylvania and other states.

Hart said the other Barbour County man died while shoveling snow at his home. She declined to identify him until his relatives had been notified.

Goodwin identified the Tucker County woman as Nanci Hedrick of Davis, a front desk supervisor at the Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center. Hedrick's car slid into the path of a cement truck on W.Va. Route 32 on Monday. The driver of the cement truck and his son were taken to the hospital, media outlets reported.

Heavy Snow Means Early Ski Season

Some North Carolina residents donned ski gear instead of Halloween costumes on Wednesday after Hurricane Sandy dumped several inches of snow on western parts of the state and allowed a few resorts to kick off the season early.

Sandy's low-pressure systems pushed cold air down from Canada to bring the winter-like conditions to North Carolina's mountains, National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Outlaw said. Some areas reported getting up to 3 feet of snow.

"This is incredibly unusual," Outlaw said. "It's just unheard of to have an October snowfall like this."

According to the National Weather Service, the location that received the most snow from Sandy was Gatlinburg, Tenn., which got 34 inches. Clayton, W.V, was covered by 33 inches of snow and 29 inches fell on Redhouse, Md., the weather service said.

In the Northeast, the historic storm crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 64 people with a massive storm surge that caused epic flooding.

"We're very cognizant of how much damage it's created, but on our end, it's been great to be able to open this early and get folks excited about the season," said Tammy Brown, spokeswoman for the Cataloochee Ski Area in the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina.

The Cataloochee Ski Area welcomed skiers on Wednesday after getting about 8 inches of snow in the storm, Brown said. It is only the second October opening in 52 seasons, she said. About 200 skiers hit the slopes by mid-morning, she said.

The Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, also in western North Carolina, marked its first October opening on Wednesday, beating the record for its earliest start by about a week.

Skiers and snowboarders can expect a 6- to 30-inch base of natural and manmade snow on the mountain, resort spokeswoman Kim Jochl said.

"It's literally a winter wonderland," she said. "Everything's white."

But the weather service's Outlaw said skies were starting to clear and temperatures warming, so the snow may not last long.

The forecast didn't diminish Brown's enthusiasm.

"This early, it's always watch and wait," she said. "If we're able to make snow, we're going to stay open as long as we can."

 

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this story