PARKERSBURG - Vienna City Council Thursday discussed why a public information center and a more efficient mode of communication during emergencies are needed.
Officials said they learned several lessons from the storm emergency last week where thousands of Vienna residents were without power during a triple-digit heat wave.
"We learned a lot from this," said Mayor David Nohe. "I think people realize just how much electricity means when they lose it so quickly. It was rough on everyone, but this was a situation where everyone pulled together."
Photo by Natalee Seely
Vienna City Recorder Randy Rapp, left, and Councilman Roger Bibbee discuss the city’s response to the severe storms that swept through the region last week.
A storm on June 29 disrupted power throughout the region with many areas without service for nearly a week. The derecho, a line of intense wind and storms, started in Indiana and went across Ohio, West Virginia and other states toward the Atlantic Seaboard.
The Parkersburg area was the hardest hit, officials said.
One of the main challenges during the widespread power outage was the lack of a central information center, City Recorder Randy Rapp said.
"We need to designate a location, somewhere the community can come together and get information and updates when the power is out," said Rapp.
"We must be able to get the word out to the public as quickly as possible."
Vienna resident Kathy Stoltz voiced concerns about the lack of a public information location during the outage last week and the need for better line maintenance from the power company.
To be better prepared in future emergencies, city officials will hold a series of meetings to determine a suitable building to hold an information center. In the meantime, fliers containing basic emergency information will be mailed to residents along with their utility bills.
The city also created its own Twitter account to post updates.
"A lot of people have Twitter, and it seems to be a reliable and quick way to get information out," said Rapp.
The water and sewer pumps were powered by back-up generators last week, but additional generators will be purchased so the city can be better prepared for malfunctions during another outage. The city also will discuss future locations for cooling stations and trash dump sites, said Rapp.
Jack Mathers of the tree commission said he would like to conduct a survey of trees along Grand Central Avenue to identify dead, hollow and diseased trees that could pose safety concerns during future storms.
"Grand Central is our main thoroughfare and with the severity of those winds, I'm surprised we didn't lose more trees," said Mathers.
Officials also took a moment Thursday to recognize the Public Works Department headed by Craig Metz and the utility board for its hard work.
"Personnel, department heads and law enforcement worked around the clock to keep those generators going," Nohe said.
Most of the storm costs during the emergency came from department overtime. Public works, parks and law enforcement worked 478 hours of overtime at a cost of $11,300. The cost of fuel to run the generators was to just over $2,000.
The city will submit the damage report to FEMA to recoup the funds.
In other council business:
Nohe said he was pleased to donate the cruiser to Williamstown, that has assisted the city in the past on numerous fire calls.