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Apathy stalks LEPC preparedness efforts

March 6, 2010
By Wayne Sheets Contributing Business Writer

What do the floods of 1985 and 1996 in Randolph County and Hurricane Katrina have in common? Each brought to light either a lack of planning or that planning efforts attempted were met with apathy or ignored all together.

The Randolph County Local Emergency Planning Committee is trying tirelessly to prepare the citizenry for catastrophic events such as floods, wild fires, hazardous material spills, extended power outages, extreme and lengthy periods of cold or hot weather, severe weather phenomena such as tornados (even though they rarely, if ever, occur in Randolph County) and severe thunderstorms and their attendant destructive forces and epidemics, to mention only a few. The public meets those efforts with numbing apathy.

Many of the LEPC members are officials in other organizations that are doing what they can to help people understand the gravity of being prepared. These include the American Red Cross, the Randolph County Ministerial Association, local and state homeland security officials, city and county officials and many others.

Sept. 11 brought about the National Incident Management System, which established a standardized protocol for all government agencies from first responders to the highest levels of government officials to follow in the handling and mitigation of catastrophic incidents. A part of that program mandates that the LEPC establish programs designed to inform residents of what has and continues to be done to warn them of impending emergencies, what services will be provided should the emergency occur and how to prepare themselves for these situations.

The Randolph County Office of Emergency Management's public information officer is charged with preparing and presenting these educational programs. Recently that office mailed nearly 50 letters to social and business organizations to let them know that the programs are available for viewing and discussion. (At the time of this writing, there have been only three requests for the presentations.) The first of the two-part program takes about 25 minutes to present, followed by a Q&A session. The second part takes approximately 40 minutes to show and is then followed by a Q&A period. The presentations are designed to be a part of an organization's program at their regularly scheduled meetings.

The attitude toward self-help and preparation seems to be: Why should I worry? If an emergency occurs, emergency services, the Red Cross and/or "The Government" will take care of me.

According to Connie Hull, emergency services director of the North Central West Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross, this is the most frequently heard reply to the agency's efforts to recruit and train volunteers.

These emergency response agencies are dedicated to doing all they can for everyone they can in emergencies but here's something to think about. First responders are trained, equipped and stand ready to respond to any emergency. But in the event of a widespread catastrophic event, whose safety do you suppose they are going to take care of first? That of themselves and their family, of course. Consider, too, that you might be isolated and EMS or rescue personnel can't reach you. The time to prepare is now, not during the emergency.

Sadly, the most frequently heard comment after an event is, so and so should have done this, or so and so should have that. Planning for every situation in emergencies is impossible. The OEM and the LEPC are doing everything they can to help every emergency service provider unit under their umbrella to be NIMS qualified and as ready as possible. In a catastrophic event, however, they may not be able to help everyone - at least for awhile. It behooves everyone to do all they can to prepare themselves and their family for emergencies. Being prepared will go a long way in reducing suffering and saving lives.

Those who wish to have the previously mentioned educational programs presented to their club or organization should call the OEM at 304-636-0483 for scheduling or additional information. If there is no answer, leave your name, phone number and the name of your organization and you will be contacted as soon as possible.

The LEPC meets at noon the third Wednesday of each month in the conference room of the Randolph County Courthouse Annex. The public is invited.

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As I previously mentioned, one of the pressing concerns for the safety of the people of Randolph County is being prepared for flooding. Kumbrabow State Forest, according to the OEM director, is reporting 7.0 inches of water in about 30.0 inches of snow. Snowshoe is reporting 27 inches of snow with nearly the same about of water content.

This information is not meant to cause alarm but is indicative of the amount of water covering the ground in the form of snow. Obviously, if it melts slowly it will not present a threat of flooding.

The director said that from current weather temperature models, it appears that it should melt slowly with warm days and cold nights. If, however, the temperature should experience a greater than predicted warming trend, the threat of flooding does exist.

Obviously everyone should keep a close watch on the weather by monitoring television and radio weather reports and be prepared to take necessary action to ensure their safety should a rapid snowmelt occur.

Weather trend information and data may be obtained by visiting www.nohrsc.noaa.gov.

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Don't miss out on the fun to be had at the Elkins Rotary Club's Fun Night Dinner/Dance March 13 at the National Guard Armory. If you need a ticket, contact any Rotarian or give me a call at 304-636-6723 or drop me an e-mail at contrails@cebridge.net.

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A little reminder: You can have your cell and landline phone numbers placed on the national do-not-call list. It only takes a minute of your time and it permanently blocks most telemarketing calls to your phone. To get on the list, call 888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov.

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Lisa and Mike Green have opened a new travel agency called "Get Outta Town - Now." They offer cruises, tours, vacations, day and overnight trips. Some of the trips mentioned in a brochure they presented at the merchants meeting on Feb. 23 include Pittsburgh, New York City, Virginia Beach, Columbus, Ohio and many more. They are already planning a trip for this year's Festival of Lights at Oglebay Park with a side trip to Cabela's.

For more information, visit www.getouttatownnow.com, e-mail info@getouttatownnow.com or call 304-636-0152.

Trips are contracted through Coach USA.

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Gov. Joe Manchin's office is accepting nominations for the 2010 West Virginia Governor's Service Awards. Nominations are due on or postmarked by March 21 and must be sent to 2010 Governor's Service Awards, c/o Volunteer West Virginia, 710 Central Ave., Charleston, W.Va. 25302.

Categories include youth (three categories), young adult, adult, senior, national service, lifetime achievement, family and organization.

Applications may be obtained by visiting www.volunteerwv.org or by calling 304-558-0111.

Winners will be presented with their award by the governor at a banquet July 21 at the Charleston Civic Center.

A list of the recipients will be posted on Volunteer West Virginia's Web site, www.volunteerwv.org, by May 31.

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You can now own a piece of Elkins High School (1924-1993) history by ordering a commemorative brick.

Order forms are available online at boe.rand.k12.wv.us. Orders may be placed by either e-mailing the order form to the BOE Education Department at tjgainer@access.k12.wv.us or mailing it to Randolph County Board of Education, Attn: T. Gainer, 40 11th St., Elkins, W.Va. 26241. All orders must be received by April 1.

Those ordering bricks will be contacted by phone or e-mail when the bricks are available and payment is due at that time.

Proceeds from sales go to establish the EHS Memorial Site, restoration of lights for Wimer Stadium and lights for the softball complex.

 
 

 

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