On June 29, an unusual and extremely powerful storm ripped through several states, leaving in its wake millions of people from the Midwest to the Eastern U.S. without power.
It goes without staying that included in this number were thousands of West Virginians and Ohioans from the Mid-Ohio Valley.
During this past week - which included the July Fourth holiday - hard-working utility company employees - many from out of state - spent long hours in the hottest weather we have seen in years to restore power to homeowners and businesses. Hopefully, by the time this is being read, the long ordeal residents and workers have lived through this past week is finally over and all power has been restored.
Looking back on the week, it is impossible not to feel a sense of pride in living in a place where people are so concerned about their neighbors. Throughout the week, people took it upon themselves to check in on elderly residents, neighbors and shut-ins to make sure they were OK and had the essentials they needed to survive.
Once it became evident this was no ordinary storm and that power would not be coming back on in a few hours as it normally does, people obviously began to worry about the things needed for daily lives. Would there be enough gasoline to meet the needs of vehicles and the thousands of generators powering homes and businesses? Would there be ice for people to use since there was no electricity to make the precious commodity?
Fortunately the concern never reached a state of panic. Power was restored in many areas by Saturday and many service stations were able to offer gasoline. While long lines were not uncommon early in the week, there were few reports of disagreements between patrons trying to get gas. And as power was restored to more areas, the gasoline lines became shorter.
Ice that was in short supply early in the week, also became more available. By mid-week ice was either sold or given away at several locations in the area and we believe most people who needed ice were able to receive it.
While the storm figuratively may have knocked the wind out of local government initially, officials recovered fast. State highway crews were on the roads immediately - and we are talking by Friday evening - clearing downed trees so Mon Power workers could get to areas as fast as possible to restore power.
Here in Parkersburg things were moving as smoothly as possible by Saturday. Crews were clearing and hauling away debris early in the week, a location was made available for residents to drop off spoiled food, and trash pick-up proceeded as normal. Even though some pockets of the city remained without power - and we are not minimizing that inconvenience - for most, it became somewhat of a normal week.
Could some things have been better? Of course there was frustration, especially from those whose power was not restored until later in the week. But we all know crews were working as hard as possible in very trying circumstances. The power behind this storm and its devastation certainly wasn't something we are used to seeing. Again, we think government - city, county and state - did about as good a job as possible given the circumstances.
Governments have plans to meet emergencies. Unfortunately, it takes something such as this storm to test the feasibility of those plans. We hope there will be some sessions in the coming weeks between government officials, disaster response teams and utility company officials to discuss what worked this past week, what didn't work as well as hoped, and how the things that didn't work can be made to work better the next time.