PARKERSBURG - The Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross honored many throughout the community Wednesday for assistance provided during emergency efforts during the derecho this summer.
Representatives from 20 local businesses, civic organizations, cities, schools, foundations and others gathered at the Red Cross building on Eighth Street for a ceremony. The Red Cross honored those who helped during the massive blackout following storms in late June where power was out to many areas for several days.
Each one was presented with a "Thank You" certificate from the Red Cross and a family first aid kit.
Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz accepts a “Thank You” certificate and a family first aid kit from Sharon Callow. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
''Our little event here is in honor of all of you who helped during the derecho,'' said Executive Director Sharon Callow. ''We won't forget it.
''Just know that when there is a disaster, the Red Cross is here and available. We will continue to be here for this community.''
Volunteers do a lot of work to prepare to respond to and work with situations, like the derecho, said Chip Pickering of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross Board.
''It is a beautiful thing to see it all come together,'' he said. ''It was a challenge for the community to ride through, but we did it and it happened well because of the people who were prepared.
''You all made a significant contribution to the community's response.''
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell thanked the Red Cross for getting food to people at cooling stations at the City Building and helping others throughout the community.
''Everyone really stepped up,'' Newell said. ''People talked about our preparedness and quite frankly, I think we were prepared. I think it went very well considering with the lack of electricity and the weather.''
The mayor presented a $5,000 donation from the city to the local Red Cross chapter.
Boy Scouts helped deliver ice and water, Wood County Schools opened the kitchens at Parkersburg South High to prepare meals and Lowe's in Vienna was a staging area to get people ice, water and other needed supplies. Many people and foundations made monetary donations to help the Red Cross do more locally.
Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law said the school system was proud of its staff, especially Food Services Manager Beverly Blough, who was working 18-20 hour days to get meals made at Parkersburg South High School.
''We were pleased to be a small part of this huge effort in helping our community recover,'' he said.
Callow commended Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, his wife, Sherry, and especially their daughter, Sara, 7, for volunteering at a station at Lowe's in Vienna where supplies were being organized and handed out to people.
''(Sara) came and worked all day long,'' Callow said. ''She was a trooper.''
Sara wanted to stay when others were getting tired and wanted to go home, Sherry Ellem said. Even with being made to take a break in the middle of the day, Sara put in around 12 hours of work.
''That is what life is about, being able to pass that type of volunteerism on to the next generation,'' Sherry Ellem said. ''It made me proud as a parent to think we had instilled that to her at such a young age.
''I had no idea she had that type of endurance. I am telling you all, don't exclude kids from what we do every day.''
The area's media outlets were commended for getting information out to the public about needed services and what was happening. Officials acknowledged the valuable role social media played in getting information out to people.
Red Cross officials are continuing to look at what went well and what needs to be done, trying to improve things.
''The next time it will happen and it will happen again or something different will happen; we will have prepared ourselves to make the process better for our community,'' Pickering said.