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Superstorm Sandy: Road to Recovery

Officials: Area more prepared for bad weather

October 28, 2013
By Matthew Burdette Executive Editor , The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS - A year after Superstorm Sandy slammed central West Virginia, elected officials and emergency responders find themselves in a new position: prepared.

Last year's unprecedented one-two punch of freak weather events - the derecho in June and Sandy in October - brought to light several weaknesses in area preparedness plans. Those weaknesses, though, have been addressed during the past 12 month, putting officials more at ease, yet still on their toes, they report.

"The county is in a much better place to respond to the needs of its citizens in 2013, compared to 2012," Randolph County Commissioner Mike Taylor said. "The storms last year really pushed our emergency responders to the limit. Everybody adapted to the conditions that were thrown at them and provided the best possible relief."

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That relief will be much faster and at greater availability because of several upgrades and changes brought about by the disasters.

Officials: Area

more prepared

for bad weather

By Matthew Burdette

Executive Editor

ELKINS - A year after Superstorm Sandy slammed central West Virginia, elected officials and emergency responders find themselves in a new position: prepared.

Last year's unprecedented one-two punch of freak weather events - the derecho in June and Sandy in October - brought to light several weaknesses in area preparedness plans. Those weaknesses, though, have been addressed during the past 12 month, putting officials more at ease, yet still on their toes, they report.

"The county is in a much better place to respond to the needs of its citizens in 2013, compared to 2012," Randolph County Commissioner Mike Taylor said. "The storms last year really pushed our emergency responders to the limit. Everybody adapted to the conditions that were thrown at them and provided the best possible relief."

That relief will be much faster and at greater availability because of several upgrades and changes brought about by the disasters.

Taylor said 9-out-of-10 fire departments in Randolph County have generators in place, some of which have been upgraded after the storms.

"I think if there is another total power outage at least there will be temporary places for people to go until they are relayed to more permanent shelters," Taylor said.

In addition, the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management has been busy working up an emergency preparedness plan so that future disasters will have less impact.

OEM Director Jim Wise and Randolph County officials have been consulting with officials from the National Guard to work on preparedness manuals and guides. The guides will deal with everything from emergency shelters to communication systems.

One new tool in place, as a direct result of the storms, is the Nixle system. Citizens are encouraged to sign up for the free service, which sends alerts to mobile phones and email accounts. Nixle is not only used during times of large-scale events such as Superstorm Sandy, but it also is used to alert residents to boil water advisories, planned power outages, road closures, severe weather alerts and much more. Citizens may sign up at nixle.com, and select the type of alerts and delivery methods they would like to receive.

"The one thing we learned from the storms was the importance of our communication systems," Taylor said. "We had a total communications failure, and we have made several improvements so that does not happen again. We have to keep everything online so we can get the word out to people."

County officials also continue work with the Local Emergency Planning Committee to plan for future events, such as either natural or man-made disasters.

Taylor also encourages area residents to be prepared.

"The best tips I can give from a personal standpoint is that you need to be prepared to sustain yourself for a couple days," he said. "It's good to stock the basics, like water, batteries and fuel for a generator, if you have one. It's also important to keep medicine stocked at all times. I think people are more conscious today, though, after having back-to-back storms like we did last year."

- Contact Matthew Burdette at 304-636-2121, ext. 120 or via email at mburdette@theintermountain.com. Follow him on Twitter at IM_Burdette.

 
 

 

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