Officials react to potential bad weather

PARKERSBURG – Although some area residents said they were not concerned about an impending storm, officials were ready for the worst Wednesday afternoon.

According to the National Weather Service Wednesday, severe weather could occur in parts of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. Area businesses were experiencing a boom in sales as residents stockpiled storm supplies Wednesday night.

Dennis Erb, assistant manager with the Vienna Home Depot, said the store experienced a “crazy” day once warnings went out Wednesday morning.

“People are taking a proactive approach,” he said of customers. “They’re taking the warning seriously and buying the standard storm stuff.”

Erb said standard storm supplies included flashlights, generators, gas cans, batteries and generators.

He said the store held a standard stock of generators, but in the event of an emergency the store could receive more from vendors.

“We’re all set and ready to go,” he added.

The store manager for Lowe’s in Vienna said generators sold out in the store quickly Wednesday morning. He said the store had several generators when opening and gas cans were selling at an increasing rate.

Mike and Brooke Harris of Parkersburg said they were not worried about the threat of another derecho. The couple said they experienced about eight days without power last June and anticipated having enough gasoline to get to the beach if it should happen again. The couple said they didn’t want to experience another week of hot, humid days without utilities.

Shoppers at Foodland and Kroger in Parkersburg said they were just making the usual trips for milk, bread and ice. Many residents weren’t even aware a storm was approaching the area.

Brooke Harris said she noticed the influx of customers in area gas stations. She said earlier Wednesday she had driven to Marietta to purchase gas and supplies, believing the lines would be less crowded there.

The Harrises said they have been aware of the news coverage about the weather but still believed all the hype wouldn’t lead to much.

Mayor Bob Newell said Wednesday Parkersburg residents are encouraged to call the mayor’s office at 304-424-8420 or dial 311 for non-emergency information, such as road closures, or to report a non-emergency situation, such as a downed tree.

Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department said families should pick a place to seek shelter in a hallway, bathroom or low-lying areas to stay safe if the storm hits.

“Have a first-aid kit and essential medications, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries,” Flinn said in case of a storm.

Flinn said after a storm has passed residents should be cautious of utility lines, stay away from them and call the proper authorities. Firefighters warn residents to use caution around broken or sharp objects such as glass and other debris.

“If you have a power outage it is recommended to use flashlights for light rather than candles,” he said.

In an emergency, fire officials said to stay calm and notify emergency responders. When reporting to 911, know what to report, speak calmly and clearly when giving the information.

FirstEnergy, the parent company for Mon Power, sent out a press release Wednesday on how local residents should take caution. The power company has been in contact with outside utility groups to determine if mutual aid would be needed.

Customers who experience power outages are urged to call 1-888-LIGHTSS to report the outage or click “Report Outage” on via the web or a smart phone.

Updates are available 24/7 on twitter at @MonPowerWV.