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Derecho One Year Later


It was one year ago today that a massive derecho slammed the Ohio Valley -- and while we'll never forget, we've gained important knowledge.

"Being a mayor for 16 years, every storm is different and we practice. But every time you go through it, something new will happen you've never seen before," says Senator David Nohe (R-WV), former Vienna mayor.

A historic downtown establishment took on an important role.

"And we almost, in many ways as a hotel become emergency housing, we become emergency shelter, certainly food supply, water supply," says Cecil Childress, general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel. "So we really did some investing in some infrastructure capabilities."

Nohe's top bill next year will require all new service stations and convenience stores to have a generator on the premises.

"We saw how important the service stations were; you saw lines backed up and now matter how efficient you are, if you don't have gasoline you can't get anywhere," the senator says.

A year has passed since the derecho wreaked havoc on the valley and we've come far, but is it enough?

"Certainly hope we're better prepared, but I don't know if you can really ever be completely well prepared for something of that kind of magnitude," Childress says.

Public information disruptions were widespread.

"One of the biggest concerns we had, other than the lack of communication, which was the worst thing for us and we've tried to improve that across the state, were the trees," Nohe says. "There were so many trees that had been unmanaged."

The Blennerhasset had a hotel full of guests and no power.

"Last year our great challenge was we were filled with a large wedding party, so we had the opportunity to try to figure out how to do a wedding for 180 people by candlelight," Childress says.

As a 24-hour operation, the hotel is always one step ahead.

"We don't spend a lot of time worrying about it, the goal is just to kind of do the next thing and try to be prepared," Childress says.

Officials say even though the area is a lot better prepared than last year, anything can happen.

Their main concern is public safety.


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