Lifelong Monroe County, W.Va. resident Paula Mann is documenting abuses of mvp companies
GREENVILLE, W.Va. — A debilitating case of Lyme Disease afflicted Paula Mann in the midst of her ongoing battle with the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) here in this isolated and stunningly beautiful section of Monroe County in southeastern West Virginia. However, with the help of local and regional herbalists, Mann reports that she successfully treated herself for the disease with tinctures and teas made from herbs.
About a year ago, Mann said, “The pain started in my shoulders. I thought I had strained it, but going to the chiropractor didn’t help. Then a few days later I got the bullseye rash on my leg. That’s when I went to the doctor. Both shoulders had bullseye rashes. I had one on my thighs as well.”
However, she had a problem. “I couldn’t take the antibiotic the doctor wanted to give me.” So, she called a friend. “She gave me the herbs to take for it. You can treat it with herbs and strengthen the immune system.” Mann added, “I started taking herbs before the tests even came back from the doctor.” She said that she also went to an herbalist in Blacksburg, Va. and she told Mann about some other herbs. So she uses what both herbalists recommend. She started with a tincture first, then when she became symptom free, she switched to tea. “Everyday I take a daily of mixture of herbs. I boil the herbs in teas,” she shared.
A spider bite caused her Lyme Disease said Mann. “I don’t know what kind, but it was small because is was in my shoe and sock.” She added, “I was lucky; I got the bullseye rash. I was lucky to catch it in time. It’s nothing to full with. I was in terrible pain, night and day. It was three and a half months before the pain and symptoms went away.”
What has not gone away, sadly, for Mann and her community is the MVP. Monroe County has been perhaps the strongest pocket of resistance to construction of the MVP in West Virginia. When one considers the karst topography which it runs through, the pristine and ancient rivers and streams, and the cavalier attitude of the fossil fuel companies building the MVP, it is understandable.
In response, she started a video production company, Mountain Media Productions, through which Mann documents the destruction caused by the MVP contractors.
A native of Monroe County, Mann has lived on the same piece of property her whole life. It was her grandfather’s property and has been passed down through the generations. Still, she does not oppose the MVP merely because it’s near her lifelong homestead. Already in the ground near her, she simply considers it dangerous. “I was concerned about our water and of course the land it’s torn up. And also exploding maybe. It’s just up on the hill up there. It’s a semi-circle around us. I’m very concerned about that. We have an organic farm and I have dairy goats. This stuff the pipeline is coated with is toxic. If it gets into our water we can’t feed them.” She added, “We don’t drink it anymore.”
There are numerous lessons to be learned dealing with MVP companies, argued Mann. “For one thing, they don’t do what they promise they will do. They put up these silt socks to keep the runoff from going into streams. Well, they don’t do it, because I’ve done a lot of filming of it. Every time we have a hard rain, they have to come back and fix it. It doesn’t do any good. Of course they tore our road all to pieces. It tore up our cars.”
The very reason for the pipelines needs to be questioned, she argued. “We should start with how hazardous fracking is to people’s health. The hazards of it. What it’s doing to people. Then, of course, there’s the risk of the pipelines, exploding or contaminating the water. If we can stop the fracking, then that would stop the pipelines.”
She added, “It really works on you emotionally. I’ve lived on this property all my life.” She and her husband will call it home 49 years this month. She continued, “You build it up. Then something like this comes along. We’re going to leave. I don’t want it to explode on us. We have to leave here. All our people are here. We have to tear our roots up. It’s very devastating. We’ve had to worry about it for five years. I don’t think I would have gotten the Lyme Disease if not for getting down from this fight.
“It’s like your ripping your heart out.”
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For additional information about the Sustainable Living Forum program or about the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation, call 304-536-1207, check the Sweet Springs Resort Park Foundation Facebook page or the Events page of the Appalachian Chronicle. To get there by GPS: 19540 Sweet Springs Valley Road, Gap Mills, WV 24941.
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© Michael M. Barrick, 2019. Rash photo from public domain. All others courtesy of Paula Mann.