Many Prepare for the Possibility of Severe Weather

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After dealing with last summer's derecho, many are in a "better safe than sorry" state of mind.

Those who deal with emergencies are taking extra steps of caution when it comes to the possibility of severe weather.

Last year's derecho knocked down trees and power lines -- leaving two-thirds of West Virginia without power for days.

It was the storm that caught just about everybody off guard.

C.W. Sigman, Kanawha County’s emergency management deputy director, got a call about an hour before the derecho hit, warning him of a bad storm coming in.

“I told him I’d never doubt him again. He was right. It was a bad storm coming,” Sigman said.

Sigman wasn't the only one who treated the warning as run-of-the-mill. Now he and everybody else are better prepared.

At Kanawha County Metro 911, there are extra generators outside and extra staff inside, because dispatchers remember what it was like last year.

“It was very chaotic, just the amount of phone calls that started coming in after the storm,” Capt. Paul Dryden with Metro 911 said.

Dispatchers in Calhoun County are also keeping an eye to the sky, trying to decide whether to launch the brand new code red emergency alert system.

It would send a tailored message to your landline, letting you know about the possibility of severe weather and what you need to do.

“Our most important thing is ‘the first 72 are on you.’ You need to be prepared to be without electricity, without running water,” Julie Sears, an emergency dispatcher, said.

You can also sign up for text and e-mail alerts at:

In Putnam County, the public service district is also taking extra steps of caution.

“Last year's event is still fresh on everybody's mind -- probably more so on ours than others,” John Inghram, the water quality superintendent, said.

So the PSD is filling up its backup generators to make sure clean water continues to flow to all customers.

As various agencies prepare for severe weather, they want to make sure you are prepared, too. Emergency officials say to make sure you have plenty of food, water and any medications you may need – just in case your power goes out.

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