WILLIAMSON - Hurricane Sandy, already a cyclone of fearsome size and unusual intensity, underwent another alarming round of intensification early Monday morning as it began its dreaded left turn toward the East Coast of the United States. Sandy appears destined to enter the history books as one of the most exceptional and potentially destructive storms to strike the Northeast in modern history.
Numerous high wind warnings have been issued for parts of 17 states from the Northeast to portions of the Midwest and southern Appalachians on Monday and today, along with a slew of flood watches and warnings both for storm-surge flooding at the coast and freshwater flooding from rainfall inland. Blizzard warnings have been posted for the mountains of West Virginia and the residents of the Mountain State are preparing for the worst.
Jerrod Fletcher, Emergency Services Director for Mingo County spoke with the Williamson Daily News about the incoming bouts of rain, high winds and snow, and said that all steps have been put into place to prepare for the “Frankenstorm” that is said to be the first of its kind to hit the United States.
“The state Emergency Operations Center opened on Monday at 12 noon to service the residents of the State and our local Department of Highways crew came on duty at midnight and will be working around the clock should we get any snow fall,” said Fletcher. “Mingo County is in the middle of the Snow Belt and the Hurricane Belt of this storm so really at this point, all we can do is watch and wait to see what happens.”
“As of now, what weather pattern will hit Mingo County is fairly impossible to predict.”
The National Weather Service is calling for 1-2 feet of snow to pound the northern portion of West Virginia, and to our south in Buchanan County, Virginia residents are bracing for the worst. According to the latest predictions which are subject to change, Mingo and the eastern part of Pike County, Kentucky are looking to receive rain, heavy at times, mixed with snow. Accumulations of 1-2 inches of snow are a possibility but with the ground still being warm, the likelihood of it melting quickly is a good one.
If the storm should shift and the Tug Valley would receive more accumulation than expected, electrical outages are a possibility, and this scenario could also take place if Mingo and Pike Counties experience high gusts of winds. Should this occur, Fletcher gives the following tips to help prepare your family for an emergency situation.
“First and foremost, I would encourage everyone to not travel should we get snowfall, unless you positively have to,” said the Emergency Services Director. “If you must be out and about, please allow yourself ample time to reach your destination and drive with extreme caution. Being in a hurry only complicates an already serious situation.”
Fletcher reminds the public that during a power outage to not open your refrigerator unless necessary, to improve your chance of retaining your food supply without it spoiling. Use caution if you are utilizing a portable heat source, such as propane, natural gas or kerosene. Make sure the heaters are properly vented and keep them well away from any flammable or combustible materials. It would also be a good idea, according to Fletcher, to maintain a 2-3 supply of drinking water to accommodate the number of people in your household.
“If we do experience bad weather and you live near elderly people, please be courteous and check on them to make sure they are okay,” stated Fletcher. “If they do not have an alternative heating source or a food and water supply, contact Mingo County 911, provide us their names and location and we will make sure they’re taken care of.”
“Keep a ready supply of flashlights with fresh batteries nearby, and candles,” remarked Fletcher. “A portable radio is also a great item to have handy if the electricity does go off, this will allow you to hear the latest weather reports and updates from the utility companies and road department.”
“If you’re out on the road prior to the storm hitting, I would suggest filling up your vehicle’s gas tank too. Also remember that ATM machines at your bank will not operate should their electric be off, so make sure you have money on hand, should you need it.”
Reports began coming in Monday morning of snow falling on top of Horsepen Mountain on U.S. Rt. 52 and during the morning drive to Mingo Central High School which is located near Varney. Calls were also received from Airport Road and the Mountain Heights Community in Williamson reporting a small amount of accumulation.
Trick-or-Treat has been changed in Mingo County as well as in Pike and Martin County in Kentucky, from Tuesday night until Thursday, Nov. 1, due to the inclement weather. This includes the activities planned for the Williamson Field House (Kiwanis Club Trick-or-Treat) and the Southside Mall in Goody, Ky., who will now begin their costume contest at 5:45 P.M. on Thursday, and children will receive treats from the businesses inside the mall between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. For more information, you may call the mall office at 606-237-1200.