By Tina Alvey
With more snowfall expected from the hurricane-driven Halloween week storm, Greenbrier County activated two emergency shelters Tuesday to accommodate residents faced with electrical outages at their homes.
Shelters opened at Rainelle Fire Department and Rhema Christian Center in Fairlea, according to Al Whitaker, director of the Greenbrier County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. He urged any county resident lacking electricity or heat to take refuge at one of those facilities.
For additional information on the status of the county’s shelters, call 304-646-5260.
As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, 631 Mon Power customers in eastern and central Greenbrier County were still without power, and the outage count in western Greenbrier stood at 960 Appalachian Power customers.
Rainelle Mayor Andrea Pendleton estimated the snowfall in the more mountainous region surrounding her western Greenbrier town at between 18 inches and 2 feet, but said it was “melting to slush” by early Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m worried about it re-freezing, and the roads getting slick, but the ground’s just too warm for it to build up much,” Pendleton said.
She also rejected the idea that flooding could follow the snow melt, saying the dry summer that just ended could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, since the river and creek beds have plenty of room for additional water.
“Everything is looking wet and damp today, but nothing like we were afraid we’d get,” the mayor said. “Everybody was at the grocery stores all weekend, getting ready and stocked up for the worst, so I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
Pendleton said the main inconvenience the storm caused at City Hall was the delay in getting Tuesday’s mail. “It’s stuck on the Turnpike; they can’t get here,” she said.
Pendleton said members of the West Virginia National Guard had arrived in town by early afternoon Tuesday, and that she had received phone calls from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Sen. Ron Miller and Rep. Nick Rahall asking whether Rainelle’s needs were being met.
According to Lewisburg assistant administrator Bonita Sienkiewicz, power had been restored in the downtown area by 1 p.m. Tuesday, following an outage that had forced the Greenbrier County Commission to close most offices in the courthouse earlier in the day.
Court-related offices at the courthouse were already shuttered for the day Tuesday, under authority of an order issued Monday by 11th Circuit Chief Judge Joseph C. Pomponio Jr.
Even with most courthouse offices closed, early voting continued without interruption in Greenbrier County, with necessary machinery connected to a generator.
In addition, the County Commission concluded a meeting that had been recessed last week, approving the transfer of two employees from part-time to full-time status at the 911 Center.
In Monroe County, the snowfall was lighter and the power outages fewer, with only 133 Mon Power customers reporting interruptions in electrical service by mid-afternoon Tuesday.
“I live in Peterstown, and there wasn’t much snow there at all this morning when I left,” said Monroe County Clerk Donald Evans.
He said the county courthouse in Union operated as usual Tuesday, with early voting proceeding on schedule.
“We have locations in mind for shelters, if they’re needed, but we haven’t activated them,” Evans noted.
If the situation changes, announcements will be made through the county’s school-operated radio station, WHFI (106.7), as well as on the Monroe County Office of Emergency Services’ Facebook page and via newspapers and TV, Evans said.
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