PARKERSBURG - Emergency officials are monitoring the threat of severe weather from Hurricane Sandy here where the cities of Parkersburg and Vienna have postponed trick of treat until Thursday night.
The concern is the wind more so than the cold, Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said.
"That's the dangerous part," he said.
Photos by Jeff Baughan
Carl Sizemore II, the Wood County assistant director of the Office of Emergency Management, moves a portable generator at the Wood County 911 center on Core Road in Parkersburg.
Planners are watching the storm in anticipation of a change in severity and how it progresses, Wood County Emergency Management Director Ed Hupp said. The primary threat is wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph.
"We're (county officials) not expecting flooding," he said. "(The National Weather Service) is not predicting any major amounts of precipitation."
Emergency planners will re-evaluate the storm over the next week and have contacted the Red Cross and the Wood County Commission. Hupp said.
The city of Parkersburg is prepared, Newell said. Salt trucks are ready to roll in the event of ice, the mayor said.
Also, the city invested about $6,000 in new chainsaws - purchased in the aftermath of the June 29 derecho - to deal with fallen trees and power lines, he said.
In case of extended power outages, residents are encouraged to contact the mayor's office, Newell said.
"We will have people staffed to answer the phones, even after hours," he said.
Fire stations also will have information about resources and should be able to answer questions, he said.
"We are ready," he said.
Belpre is prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends, Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said. Salt trucks are ready and all vehicles are fueled, he said.
"I have instructed everybody to make sure all vehicles, generators and equipment is gassed-up and ready to go," Lorentz said. "In June our biggest worry was running out of fuel and I don't want that to happen again."
While the June derecho caused fuel supplies for municipal services to dwindle to critical levels, Hurricane Sandy could also cause fuel shortages, Lorentz said.
"If this is as bad as (experts) are saying it could be, we could be without fuel for a week or more, so we are doing everything we can to be ready," Lorentz said.
Belpre is treating the hurricane as any other winter storm, Lorentz said.
"Other than the fuel issue, this is our normal preparations for winter storms with salt spreaders going on trucks and other things," he said. "Right now we are as ready as we will ever be. We always want to start things at the optimum."
The storm could impact telephone service and electrical service, the airport and early voting sites.
Frontier Communications is working with utility companies and emergency responders across West Virginia to quickly restore service if it is lost, Dana Waldo, senior vice president and general manager for West Virginia, said.
"We have prepared our crews with the resources they need to get into the field as the need arise," Waldo said.
Frontier operations teams have equipped fleet vehicles with extra fuel, fluids and lighting, double-checked all safety equipment and supplies used by field technicians, placed emergency network supplies throughout company facilities and taken inventory of supplies that will be needed in the aftermath of severe weather for network restoration, Waldo said.
Early voting has been suspended today in Morgan County in the Eastern Panhandle in West Virginia because of the storm, Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said. The situation in Morgan County is too dangerous for people to risk their safety, she said.
The suspension is only for today and only in Morgan County, Tennant said. The decision was made after Tennant contacted county clerks regarding Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's state of emergency declaration.
The decision to delay trick or treat to 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday was made Monday afternoon, Newell said.
Halloween is Wednesday, but holding trick or treat on that day will conflict with church activities, which has caused a furor in years past with churches, Newell said.
"We went through that misery once," he said.
Football games are on Friday night, Newell said.
Vienna planners also decided Monday afternoon to postpone trick or treat, Mayor David Nohe said.
The concern was the threat of severe wind gusts, he said.
"With the possibility of flying objects hitting a small child, we just have to cancel it," he said.
The city has been preparing as much as possible for the storm, Nohe said.
"We are as ready as ready can be," he said. "There's nothing we can prepare for other than checking generators. (City officials) are on standby."
In Belpre, the decision will be made by parents whether to allow their kids to trick or treat, Lorentz said. Scheduling an event because of the moving storm is difficult, he said.
"I'm not going to try to hit a moving target," Lorentz said.
The Spooktacular at the Belpre Historical Society Farmers Castle Museum will go on as scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. today.
"It's a chance for us to get people in the museum that otherwise would not come to the museum," said Nancy Sams, president of the society.
In Elizabeth, trick or treat will be held from 6-7 p.m. today as planned, but the annual Halloween parade has been moved from the Wirt County Courthouse to the Wirt County Primary Center.
In Jackson County, Ripley, Ravenswood and the county have rescheduled trick or treat from 6-7:30 p.m. today to the same times on Thursday.
Operations at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport will continue as usual, but there is always the possibility of canceled flights because of the wind, a spokesman said.