Emergency Officials Talk about Lessons Learned from 2012 Derecho

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Emergency officials in Kanawha County talked Friday about how to be better prepared if another massively punishing round of severe weather hits.

The event at the Charleston Civic Center came one day shy of last year’s derecho that knocked out power to more than 600,000 customers in West Virginia.

Three people were killed.

Officials talked Friday about what they and the public can do to be better prepared next time.

Last year, nursing home patients had to be sent to shelters after the power went out. Officials are strongly urging nursing homes to be equipped with emergency backup generators.

Charleston Fire Department Deputy Chief Bob Sharp says they’re now better prepared to help people who need oxygen.

"(Last year) we gave out all the oxygen we had,” Sharp said. “It was very difficult; everyone was running out of oxygen, so we looked. And since then, liquid oxygen, there's plenty liquid oxygen to use, but we didn't have the equipment to utilize that."

They've also been recruiting more volunteers to be ready to man emergency shelters.

"We try to do more training with our emergency operations centers to be better prepared to give services we can to the citizens and get each person prepared," Sharp said.

Dr. Rahul Gupta with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says the more prepared people are in their own homes, the faster emergency responders can help those severe weather has hit hardest.

"The more prepared people are, the less resources will be put on non-emergency emergencies, and more focus can be put on trying to save people's lives," Gupta said.

Officials say you should have flashlights and a radio, keep a list of your medications, and you should have at least three days worth of supplies, canned food and water in your home.

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