Duff pleased with Highland emergency response

Monterey, Va. – Highland County Sheriff Tim Duff is very pleased with the county’s response to last week’s severe storm that knocked out power to the whole county. That was part of his message to the Board of Supervisor’s Tuesday evening at their regular monthly meeting. He added that there is still room for improvement in the county’s emergency response, but he is very proud of the way county employees and citizens stepped up to help.

“It sounds really weird, but if you are going to have an emergency, you may as well have it in Highland County, because you are going to have a lot of people helping you out, it’s great,” said Duff. “We had a plan, we modified it throughout the implementation. Every hour something would not work, you change your plan and you keep going forward. We never at any time took a step back.

Sheriff Duff goes on to express his gratitude to several of the folks who helped with the response to this disaster.

“I’m going to thank some people here. I’m going to leave people out. It’s going to happen and I’m going to apologize up front,” he said. “Thanks to the firefighters, the loggers, the rescue squad. The VDOT guys were outstanding as were our troopers and my deputies. Deputy Wimer has been in that building nonstop since it started. It freed me up just a little bit to go out and handle the issues that had to be dealt with on the street.”

Many other people also made important contributions to the relief efforts.

“Our county employees were great,” said Duff. “Our emergency services coordinator Harley Gardner was very helpful. We picked up the phone and he was there. It’s because of him that we were declared (in a state of emergency) as early as we were declared. And that got the equipment coming so much quicker. By name I do have to mention Lightner’s Electrical. Not every generator was fully functional when we received it. Everyone is now fully functional. Those two are very good at what they do.”

The Sheriff also made particular mention of the Code Red system the county uses to notify residents about emergency situations.

“Some of you have heard me on the phone twice in the past few days,” he said. “That is our Code Red system that you gentlemen and Miss Roberta authorized me to contract into. We got 52% coverage. To the vendor Code Red that was a complete system failure until you factor in downed power lines and downed telephone lines. This company is good. We are going to get a whole lot better with this system. It’s simple. It’s foolproof. I have it down to about seven and one-half minutes from the time I push the first button to the time you are all notified. It’s a fantastic system.

As of Friday morning, many of the emergency response programs are winding down in Highland County and resources like generators and Red Cross meals are being released to other parts of the area still in need. However, there are still some residents in Highland County who are without power. Power is still out in parts of the McDowell area and in the vicinity of Headwaters. Friday morning around 8 am BARC Electric Cooperative released the following message. “Effective immediately, we are asking all customers who are still without power to call CRC at (800) 846-2272 and report your outage via the automated system, or via a live operator. It is important that you report your outage to CRC so that our dispatchers can issue dispatch tickets for your locations. You may continue to post to Facebook, but please also call our 800 number. If you receive a busy signal, please keep calling.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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