Disaster meetings planned

ELIZABETH – Wirt County Office of Emergency Services Director Bo Wriston will be conducting a series of public presentations throughout Wirt County in March and early April addressing disaster preparedness, future plans for Wirt County OES, and the Wirt County CERT program.

Wriston will talk about preparedness issues from the federal, state and local level, and provide information on programs and technology currently available to help citizens be ready before an event occurs.

Topics will include the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS), Nixle Alerts, Project Lifesaver for those likely to wander due to cognitive disabilities, the r-u-OK? program for homebound and shut-in citizens, the West Virginia Department of Transportation Yellow Dot program, the National Weather Service SKYWARN program, and others.

He will also discuss the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, and how local citizens can receive free in-depth training and supplies to protect themselves and their families.

Wriston will also cover current plans to help revitalize local community centers around Wirt County by designating them as “Community Disaster Centers.” The long-term goal is to establish 10 centers around the county based on the current network of community buildings that will be able to deliver disaster relief supplies and serve as more localized points of distribution for supplies and public information during events like the last summer’s derecho.

“Rather than have one centralized point of distribution at the courthouse in Elizabeth, we want to be able to get needed supplies out to staging areas in the local communities,” he said. “This will help keep commute distances down for citizens, especially important when fuel is scarce and difficult to get, and allow us to provide much more direct relief. The goal is to have each center equipped with communications equipment, first aid supplies, Internet accessibility, weather monitoring stations, and most importantly natural gas generators able to keep the lights on during a major event,” Wriston said.

“This will especially help those citizens with medical issues such as the need for home oxygen, those that require insulin, etc., and will greatly enhance our ability to communicate and assist all our citizens,” he said.

The meetings will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will be open to the public. Those who can’t attend meetings in their own communities are encouraged to attend another of the series. Refreshments will be served and handouts will be given to all attendees, including the “WV Ready Preparedness Guide.”

The schedules for the meetings includes:

* March 11 at Pisgah Church for Pee Wee area

* March 15 at Beulah Hill Presbyterian Church for Beulah Hill area

* March 17 at Wirt County Courthouse for Elizabeth area

* March 18 at Palestine Community Building for Palestine area

* March 19 at Creston Community Building for Creston area

* March 20 at Newark Christian Fellowship Church for Newark and Spring Valley area

* March 25 at Brohard Community Building for Munday/Brohard area

* March 26 at Morristown Community Building for Morristown area

* March 27 at Burning Springs at a location to be determined

* April 2 at Two Run Baptist Church for Two Run/Lucille/McCutcheon Run area

* April 4 at Big Island Run for Big Island/Route 53 area