By Wendy Holdren
Several items were discussed at the quarterly meeting of the Southern West Virginia Preparedness Partnership Wednesday, including a new traffic initiative and ways to utilize local volunteer organizations to help disaster victims.
Kevin Taylor, director of emergency services for the city of Beckley, said a new traffic related initiative was recently launched by the Department of Transportation called WV511.
Travelers can visit www.wv511.org and see road closures, traffic backups and road work.
Active planned events, future planned events and road conditions can also be found on the site.
The map can be altered to view the entire state or one region at a time and a live traffic feed can also viewed.
WV511 also offers a “Drive Safe” mobile app, which provides drivers with audible, hands-free traffic alerts from their smartphone.
A program called VOAD, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, was also discussed.
Jenny Gannaway discussed an initiative they’re working on called Long Term Recovery Group, which will help those still suffering from natural disasters.
“With the summer storm and Hurricane Sandy, there are still many people out there who are living in dilapidated housing,” Taylor said.
This group will work to assist and utilize volunteer agencies to get these restorations made for families in need.
Taylor said the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) could potentially become involved with this effort.
“The northern part of Harrison County’s CERT team is involved with the VOAD effort. They go out in the area, verify damages, and then it goes to the next step.”
Taylor said this could be a role the Beckley CERT team could play in the future.
“As the opportunities come forward, we’ll take advantage of them.”
With the winter season here, Taylor said he believes Beckley and Raleigh County is ready for the weather.
“As far as preparation is concerned, supplies are high right now because we had such a mild winter last year.”
He said with any weather-related incidents, many times it comes down to how prepared the individual is.
“Are they prepared in their vehicle? Are their go-kits ready?”
Taylor also suggests that residents be mindful of weather alerts and don’t be out on the roadways when you don’t need to be.
He encourages everyone to become familiar with WV511 and utilize the traffic tools.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org