Three mines in Southwest Virginia owned by Alpha Natural Resources are idled. That decision cut 210 positions in Wise and Buchanan Counties. 70 people are now facing complete unemployment, while the other 140 people have been relocated.
Fewer coal trucks will be coming and going through a Wise County coal mine corridor.
Alpha Natural Resources' Guest Mountain mines #8 and #9 are now idled, leaving many of its employees jobless.
It's the harsh reality Stephanie Reynolds is facing whose husband is one of the employees who were laid off. "I know that he'll have to sign up on unemployment, and you know it's a lot to grasp at this point, and the insurance is a big thing to lose," said Reynolds.
We discovered there's fear in the entire coal industry.
Layoffs in the mines make railroad worker Bobby Buchanan doubt his own job security. "If there's no coal to haul, we don't need people to run the trains or keep the trains up," Buchanan told News 5.
At The Coal Bucket Deli almost every customer is a coal customer, and we learned layoffs hit business hard. "A&G as well has also laid off in the area. Just from the layoffs on those, our business has already dwindled down at least 25 percent," said owner Nicci Owens.
Owens said she expects it to get worse. "Just [Tuesday] alone, everybody was so scared; we didn't even do maybe $50. Yesterday was actually was one of our worst days we've had since I've had it," Owens added.
It's the fear felt around the region, that squeezing out coal will leave the mountains of Southwest Virginia a landscape of ghost towns. "People don't realize we need the coal, and these men need their jobs. We need it," said Reynolds.
News 5 also spoke with Wise County Finance Administrator David Cox and learned this will have an impact on all county citizens.
Cox told us, they get a three percent tax on the price of coal and natural gas that's produced in the county, and much of that goes straight into the general fund. With recent layoffs in the past, the loss in coal severance money is already greater than initially expected; it is now expected to get worse.
What this means is in the future is that the Wise County Board of Supervisors could be faced with cutting county services or programs, based on a tighter budget.