MASON COUNTY — The so-called “Frankenstorm” which includes Hurricane Sandy, was expected to begin affecting Mason County Monday night into Tuesday.
Chuck Blake, director of Mason County Emergency Management, said his office had been monitoring several different weather stations and was in direct contact with state officials, including W.Va. Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianto about the storm.
Blake said it appeared the storm would bring Mason County rain, some light snow (with little accumulation) and of course winds. Blake said the winds expected with this storm were predicted to be around 30 mph which pales in comparison to the 60 mph winds the area received during the June storm.
Still, Blake said residents should have supplies ready in case of power outages - these supplies would include batteries, food, water, flashlights, radio, etc. He’s also asking residents be careful when driving during this weather event which will include rain and likely some snow on leaves already resting on the roadways, creating slick conditions. All cell phones and other electronic devices should also be fully charged.
As for what the Mason County EMA and Office of Emergency Services plans to do if the power goes out - the emergency command center will be activated and if a need arises to open a shelter or distribute supplies, this information will be immediately given to area businesses, churches and schools which have the capability to display information on public signs. Also, the warn phone system will alert those with a phone landline about emergency announcements. Mason County EMA will also be posting information on its Facebook page for those with smart phones to access. The page is found by searching on Facebook for Mason County Emergency Management agency or linking to http://www.facebook.com/MasonCountyWVEMA?fref=ts.
The county also now has a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Director Tony Jones and volunteers to help in disaster situations though more volunteers are needed. Coordinating the CERT team was a direct result of what happened during the June storm.
Blake stressed residents should be prepared even though it appears the panhandles and mountains will be hit the hardest in the state. He said he and his staff continue to be on conference calls with everyone from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the West Virginia Division of Highways to stay informed about how the storm is affecting the area and state, and what resources are available.
Much of what did and didn’t work during the June storm in terms of emergency response, has been addressed over the last several months and though not perfect, Blake said EMA and OES is certainly working to get there.
On Monday afternoon, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in preparation of the storm.