By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
PINEVILLE — In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Dean Meadows, Wyoming County Emergency Services director, Friday provided an update to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, in addition to numerous Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives and state emergency services personnel.
About 5,000 Wyoming County residents were still without electricity Friday afternoon, according to officials. Crews, however, were bringing communities back online as fast as possible.
At the height of the storm Tuesday, more than 10,000 residents were without power.
“By the end of (Friday), we hope to have enough of an improvement to close the shelters,” Meadows told the officials.
Getting water back in the town of Oceana remains a major priority for numerous reasons, Meadows said.
“It’s not just about the 2,500 customers,” Meadows emphasized.
“That’s just a drop in the bucket” of the impact being without water has had on the town and surrounding areas.
“There are three schools that can’t be open until the water is back on,” Meadows said. “That’s about 800 students.
“There’s a dialysis center that is having to truck in 5,000 gallons of water every day to stay open,” Meadows told the officials.
Additionally, Meadows explained, people in the surrounding communities, who have no power to prepare meals, come to Oceana because of the restaurants and convenience stores. Those businesses can’t open because there is no water.
“We’re running a shelter there in Oceana — without water,” Meadows said.
“We’re waiting for a major (disaster) declaration (from President Obama),” explained Dolph Diemont, of FEMA.
He said that will open the door for all the programs and services FEMA has to offer.
There could be funding in those FEMA programs to purchase a back-up generator for the state that could be moved from community to community as the need arises, Tomblin said.
There was a back-up generator on the way to Oceana as the officials met Friday afternoon, and officials were hopeful the water would be back on before the day was out.
Meadows is also asking Wyoming County residents who have had major storm damage to their homes to call the county Emergency Services Center at 304-732-8000 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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