A year after Superstorm Sandy hit our area, you couldn't tell the damage done to some areas in Randolph County. However, to reach that place, it took some hard work by first responders.
"It took every municipality, the city of Elkins with their equipment, every town and what equipment they had. To say that it was completely over and finished, it was close to nine months out," said Jim Wise, director of the Randolph County OEM.
Members of the Elkins Fire Department responded to hundreds of calls during that time helping with anything and everything like cutting trees and removing downed power lines.
"For about a week, we stayed very, very busy. I had my staff, my duty guys, all of them, worked that week. We actually got 60 to 70 hours of overtime, above and beyond. We actually came in on Tuesday and we stayed here until Saturday," said Chief Tom Meader. "We probably had about 180 calls. Mostly your lines down, trees down. It got to the point that if the power was off the line, the tree was in the road, we'd have to go."
Through all of those efforts, officials learned a lot. Many changes have been made to the way emergency officials respond to disasters.
They've improved communication efforts with outside agencies like the Division on Highways and hospitals. More resources are also available to get information out to the public.
One, we've been pretty proactive with media. We also use social media, such as Facebook where we developed a page on that to pump information out. Also, on Nixle, which is essentially a free tool for us to use as a county, for those who want to sign up and get information through text or email," said Wise.
Through those changes, they hope to be more prepared in case this happens again.
"We're probably ready to handle another one, which I hope we don't have, but I think we're very prepared this time," said Meader.
In addition 9 of the 10 fire departments in Randolph County have gotten generators since Superstorm Sandy. Huttonsville-Mill Creek is the only department without one, but a generator was set up across the street from that fire department at the senior center because it's a bigger building. Officials hope to use those places as a shelter in case of another disaster.