One Year Later: Cities learned from storm

EDITOR’S NOTE: A storm of historical proportions struck the Mid-Ohio Valley at about 6:30 p.m. June 29, 2012.

The derecho, a storm of intense and destructive wind, did massive damage to the electrical service grid, causing numerous power outages that lasted days and weeks in some cases.

Local officials took additional measures to insure basic services such as water and sewer would not be interrupted.

Emergency planners studied and improve their ability to respond to such a disaster.

Saturday, Sunday and today, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel has taken a look back at the storm and what was learned from it.

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BELPRE – During the power outages and downed trees and limbs of the after-effects of the June 29, 2012, derecho, Belpre residents banded together, which helped teach officials how to better handle disasters.

“There were certainly a lot of lessons learned,” said Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz. “A lot of things happened during those five days that we didn’t expect.”

Of those unforeseen circumstances, the fear of the sewage treatment plant pump stopping was one of the largest as well as emergency vehicles running out of fuel to help those in need.

“For the most part we learned to pay more attention to the weather,” Lorentz said. “We are also keeping everything fueled up and making sure all generators work.

“Really, that storm caused us to get our hind ends in gear and get things ready because we never know when we will need it,” he added.

Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford agreed.

“We learned a lot, such as we need generators,” she said. “We didn’t have any generators at the water and sewer plants and that has been fixed.”

During the resulting power outage from the storm, communities throughout the area were on the verge of being without water because there was no fuel to run the generators at the water plants or, as in Williamstown’s case, there were no generators to keep pumps going.

“The water situation was the worst part,” Ford said.

A year after the storm and power outage, Williamstown City Council approved funding for electric system upgrades to run the new generators at the city’s water and sewage treatment facilities.

“I have been mayor for 16 years and only twice have we had bad storms, but this last one was the worst,” said Ford. “Little by little we learn things the hard way.”