Remembering the Derecho: 9 years later


BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Nine years ago today, a fast moving band of thunderstorms with destructive winds moved through West Virginia. It was classified as a derecho.

“The trees blew down on every road, every hollow road, the interstates, and power went out throughout most of the state,” said Paul Seamann; Director of Operations at Jan-Care.

A derecho is a widespread straight line storm with fast winds and severe thunderstorms.

“The temps were in the high 90s or 100, the humidity was super high and people were without power for weeks and who it devastated the most was the elderly, those on oxygen, those on medical,” said Seamann.

Emergency services were scrambling to meet the high call demand. A lack of fuel, water and access to power presented new challenges.

“There were only a few places you could get gas, we was on generator power here,” said John Zilinski; Director of 911 and Emergency Management for Raleigh County.

Most emergency service operations now have back up generators and supplies for themselves and others. Local partnerships with emergency services were also formed as a result of the storm.

“Now you have partnerships with the local agencies here, local Sams, local WalMarts, I’ll tell you the first one to bring water to us, we got 18 pallets of water from Lowes,” said Zilinksi.

To prepare for future emergencies, Zilinksi says there are things you can do at home to brace for long periods without power.

“The biggest thing is a 72 hour kit, be able to supply yourself and keep your family going for 72 hours,” Zilinksi said.

The key to a 72 hour kit, with extra clothes, food, water, and cash for necessities.

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