CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) – Before a treacherous winter storm brought damaging winds, icy roads, and frostbite-inducing temperatures across the entire state, Gov. Justice escalated the existing State of Preparedness and declared a State of Emergency for all 55 counties in West Virginia. When that happened the Emergency Management Division (EMD) put their plan into action, coordinating with partners, and preparing resources to help West Virginians.

“This storm caused numerous vehicle accidents, power outages and other hazardous conditions. EMD remained in close contact with local offices of emergency management, state agency partners, and utility companies to respond if and when help was needed.”

EMD Deputy Director Dr. Matt Blackwood

Activating the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC), EMD ramped up the response, monitoring weather conditions and coordinating resources or other support when needed.

During this storm, the SEOC is activated using a hybrid-virtual platform with EMD’s Watch Center monitoring for weather and other threats 24/7. Due to the severity of this storm, some operators from the Watch Center remained at the SEOC, sleeping in shifts to maintain a constant physical presence within the SEOC. 

As the hub for critical assets, the EMD warehouse in Poca is activated as part of the SEOC, resources positioned, and staff prepared to deliver assistance and resources safely and quickly to any local emergency management agency that may request assistance. Currently, there are no unmet needs or requests from any agency.

Using two 12-hour shifts, EMD staff and SEOC partners maintained 24/7 support for local agencies through the Christmas holiday and the duration of the storm event.

Along with their partners from the Federal Emergency Management West Virginia (FEMA) Integration Team (FIT) and the four National Weather Service (NWS) offices serving West Virginia, the following state partners are supporting the SEOC activation: National Guard, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), West Virginia 211, the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Center for Threat Preparedness, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation Traffic Management Center and the Division of Highways.

The SEOC is also working with public partners including Appalachian Power (AEP), First Energy, West Virginia American Water Company and Optimum/Altice USA (formerly Suddenlink).