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Questions cloud storm rescue efforts

July 7, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

It's been a week now since a powerful storm left us in its wake with no electricity for an undetermined amount of time. That meant no air conditioning in sweltering heat, tons of food that spoiled and, in some cases, a dwindling amount of water.

At the same time, few communication avenues were available. Many landline telephones were down, local radio stations were unable to broadcast and, without electricity, only those with smartphones could access the Internet.

Thousands of people in our region were in a dire situation, lacking provisions for both comfort and survival. These people needed information and possibly a place to seek refuge. However, that's far from what they got, and that leaves us with a lot of questions.

Why was Elkins Middle School not used as an emergency shelter as offered by the school system? Superintendent of Randolph County Schools Dr. James Phares told us buses with lifts to accommodate the handicapped, along with other staff members to maintain the school, were on standby. The school is equipped with a generator, so people could have stayed cool. Phares had plans ready to set in motion, so why was he left standing still?

Who makes the decision on whether to open a shelter and what criteria is that based upon?

Do any of the county Offices of Emergency Management have a contingency plan for supplying water if electricity isn't available to allow pumping? It seems some do and some don't. A lack of water supply is a highly critical situation. The counties that don't have a plan need to make one quickly.

What is the policy for traffic control? The lights at busy intersections were blinking or were out. In many cases drivers were courteous, but there also appeared to be some road rage. In general, it was basically a free for all. Shouldn't some agency have been in charge of directing motorists?

Who can institute gasoline rationing? Can a local government official or individual retailer do this? Lines at local gas stations were horrendous once the power returned. We have to wonder if all those people, especially the ones with big drums in the back of their trucks, needed gasoline or if they were simply getting as much as they could just because.

Mainly, we wonder what you, the residents and readers, think about how the entire aftermath of the storm was handled. Share your ideas and stories - good or bad - by emailing or You also may give the newsroom a call at 304-636-2124.



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