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Jefferson County spared worst of the storm

By Staff | Nov 2, 2012

A few short days ago, the Eastern Panhandle was gearing up for what could have been a major weather event; however, according to Jefferson County Homeland Security director Barbara Miller, “we were very lucky.”

In what had been predicted to be more devastating with high winds and excessive rain, the storm veered off, leaving the area wet but not completely under water.

Miller shared Wednesday that that rest of the state did not fare as well.

“The rest of the state is awful,” she said. “An example is Tucker County where they were hit with almost four feet of snow and 95 percent of their county is without power.”

According to Sen., Jay Rockefeller, in a release issued Wednesday, he is “working with the Governor and our Congressional delegation to make sure every abailalbe resource is used to help West Virginia recover from this storm and its after-effects.”

Jefferson County activated the Emergency Operations Center on Sunday in preparation for the storm. The center operated around the clock through 8 a.m. Wednesday morning when deactivation occurred. Volunteers from a variety of groups and organizations around the county gathered at the center including representation from law enforcement, emergency responders, the school system, hospital and health department. In addition to these local groups, Miller said her office was in constant contact with the state Department of Homeland Security, town officials and the Department of Highways, among others.

Shelters were opened at several locations around the county including Jefferson High School and the Senior Center in Ranson. Those shelters closed on Wednesday as businesses, schools and government offices opened for business.

Early voting was suspended for one day at the Jefferson County Courthouse, according to Clerk Jennifer Maghan. Voting ceased Tuesday but opened again Wednesday morning.

Miller said Wednesday that should the storm have produced only rain throughout the state rather than the heavy snowfall in other counties, Jefferson and the Eastern Panhandle would have been hit much more substantially with rising river waters.

“That helped us in that the rivers here did not overflow as they would have had they been hit with such large amounts of water all at once,” she said. The Potomac and Shenandoah crested below flood stage early in the week.

“We are so thankful that we were situated in the area of the state that didn’t get much damage,” Miller said. “We are communicating with others around the state to see what assistance we can give to their needs,” she continued.

Miller expressed appreciation to all the local emergency responders and all others who helped man the Emergency Operations Center during the storm event.

“We have a tremendous group of volunteers and paid personnel in this county who rise to the top in a potential situation such as this one,” she said. “We could not do our job without all of their efforts and support.”