What Can We Expect From the Approaching Hurricane Remnants?
We hear a lot about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast, but not so much about the potential problems here when the storm remnants reach us, so we asked Mike O’Brien, the Pocahontas County Emergency Management Director about that.
“The Governor has us in all fifty-five counties under a state of preparedness for Hurricane Ida that’s coming through,” said O’Brien. “Today we are going to start having meetings twice daily with the National Weather Service in preparation for the amount of rain that is going to hit West Virginia. It looks like the majority of the rain right now is scheduled to kind of go West and North of us, but we’re in that two-to-four-inch range. That could affect us a little bit, were definitely concerned with some flash flooding issues that may happen here, although it has been kind-of dry, thankfully, and the creeks are kind-of low and not a lot of water to contend with right now, so we really could use some of the rain. But, we are definitely keeping a close eye out for that and being prepared more than anything. And, now would be a good time for folks to be prepared, have a plain. Be thinking in your head, what if the flood comes, what should I do. Especially those people who live in low-lying flood-prone areas. Have a plain, be prepared to evacuate if need be. Don’t forget to sign-up for NIXEL Alerts that we send out from the emergency Management Office and 911 Center. Also, listen to the local radio station and monitor social media for things that might happen, remember, the first seventy-two hours are on you. There’s not going to be any help coming in from any kind of outside resources or agencies for up to seventy-two hours in the event that we do get hit. If you do leave and evacuate, let someone know that you left. That’s quite a problem statewide and nationally. We spend quite a bit of time and resources looking for overdue and missing people when they evacuated and didn’t tell anybody they evacuated.”
Would there be evacuation centers in the county?
“We do have predetermined evacuation locations throughout the county, if we need to open-up shelters. Of course, with COVID that complicates things a little bit, but if need be, we open that. Most common in the past, our flood-prone area in the county is the Town of Marlinton, and the main evacuation place for that is the Marlinton Middle School. We open that up as a shelter if we determine that is needed.”
“Keep in mind, the prediction here is a flash flood warning for the small streams and quick floods, things like Knapps Creek more so than a large scale river flood like the Greenbrier river flooding where we normally have more time and where we see the biggest damage, but that’s potentially something we keep in mind.”
What about in the event of a power failure?
“So, the number one thing that you don’t do in a power failure is run a generator indoors. We hear that happening quite often now days with carbon monoxide. And it’s dangerous and deadly, and can set your house on fire. And the other thing to keep in mind if you’re a medical patient maybe that’s on oxygen in your home. If you have a problem and need assistance, give us a call at the Emergency Management Office if you don’t have any resources, and we will get you some help and make sure you have enough oxygen and have the means to take care of yourself during the power outage. And, we can also prioritize with the power company to get these critical patients back on line faster than others, depending on the size and scale of the emergency and outage.”
We are still a couple of days out from when that storm is supposed to hit this area, Wednesday, although we are getting thunderstorms now. I think those are from an entirely different system, is that correct?
“Yup, so in this morning’s weather forecast. the National Weather Service in Charleston told us that it was an extremely wet atmosphere today so these storms are somewhat pertaining to Hurricane Ida but not necessarily, this could be just your typical summertime thunderstorm. (The) prediction is for most of the rain to fall from Tuesday night into Wednesday when the low pressure is going to be here. And they are talking about some localized power outages due some wind gusts. Nothing major, but with that system, of course, with the pressure change you’re going to see some winds.”
Looking at some of the maps, although we are in the two-to-four-inch rain range, we are pretty close to the four-to-eight-inch range. I guess that would make a major difference if that shifter a little bit to the East. Is that correct?
“It would, and this morning they were not certain on the track of that storm that far out. (It) could shift one way or the other, (could) make a world of difference, look at the June 16th flood what that would have done if it had been fifty miles further one way or the other. -where it would have hit. And (it’s) something we definitely want to keep an eye on. We are fortunate in a way, it’s dry and we can take on a lot of rain. I think that two-to-four, two-to-eight-inch range is over several days, not all at one time. As long as that is spread out, I think we will be OK here, but you never can tell, you never know what is in store -we take it as it comes.”