Gas officials plan longer stay to offer aid
Officials with NiSource-owned Columbia Gas Transmission said they plan to stay in the Sissonville area as long as needed to help families affected by Tuesday's pipeline explosion and fire.
Chevalier Mayes, communications manager for NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage, said the company would help families rebuild.
"We're committed to being in the community for the long term helping residents for as long as they need it," she said.
However, Ashley Weeks, 25, of Sissonville, and her family have yet to hear anything from the gas company, she said.
"They haven't told us anything," she said. "They haven't let us know what they're going to do about our house or anything like that."
Weeks and Billy Mayhue, 50, are the parents of 2-month-old Wyatt Mayhue.
The gas company is paying for the family, along with others affected by the explosion, to stay at the Sleep Inn in Mink Shoals until they can return to their homes.
However, Weeks said she is not sure when she will be ready to return to her trailer in Sissonville.
"We just don't feel safe there anymore," she said. "We're pretty much terrified to go back."
The trailer at the mouth of Derricks Creek Road was about 200 yards from where the explosion on Teresa Lane occurred, Weeks estimated. Rocks thrown from the explosion punctured their roof and knocked holes in their windows.
However, the trailer did not burn and the family was able to return briefly to survey the damage on Wednesday, Weeks said.
They did not take any of their personal items with them when they returned to the hotel, where they will stay until they hear something more about their home. Their belongings smelled of gas fumes and smoke.
"We're waiting here until we hear something more," she said. "Right now, that's pretty much our only option."
The only clothes they have were provided by Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where they sought shelter in the hours after the explosion.
The clothes received by the parents do not fit properly. The few baby clothes they received do fit, she said.
"So we have very limited everything," Weeks said.
They had left their home for the Family Dollar store near Sissonville Elementary when the explosion occurred. They were unable to return home that day.
Two houses behind the family's home were destroyed, Weeks said. Another home across the road burned to the ground, she said.
Weeks was unsure exactly how many people were seeking refuge at the hotel.
"But there's a lot of people here," she said.
A representative from Sleep Inn refused to comment on how many were staying at the hotel.
NiSource paid to house about 30 people the night of the explosion, Mayes said. However, that number may have changed since Tuesday evening, she said.
Four homes were destroyed, said Dale Petry, director of the Kanawha County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Officials with NiSource are still assessing the damage, Mayes said.