BY LAUREN RIGGS
Smithfield resident John McGee appeared before the Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning to express concern over the response to the storm that battered Wetzel County June 29.
In regards to the overall response, McGee stated that the situation was "handled poorly," adding that "we can do better." McGee said the county and state should have protocol of how to handle these situations, and they should work together. He then continued on to say that the power companies do not have enough linemen to handle these situations.
McGee's second concern was right-of-ways. "We need to sit down with the state and figure out what to do about right-of-ways." McGee said that there were too many limbs dangling over power lines and that people were frustrated. He said that in his area, whenever it rains, the electricity is compromised. McGee said he has talked to the electric company who has responded that they are only permitted to trim the trees. McGee said the commission was his "first line of defense," and that their job was to talk to the state and the senators.
McGee said another matter of concern was the issue of water and food. McGee said that the county needed a building for trucks to unload at. McGee said, "Let the National Guard come in and do their job."
McGee later added, "What really bothers me is that we kind of got a lesson in how vulnerable we are." He said he wants to get every agency together, and he even offered to discuss the matters with the Wetzel County Emergency Management Agency himself. McGee stated that he has had many people contact him for information and he has directed them on to the WCEMA. McGee says that people rely on him and he is "speaking for those people out there."
McGee also proposed ideas of getting the WCEMA's contact information out so people will know who to contact for information, saying that perhaps magnets could be made for peoples' refrigerators with the WCEMA's contact information.
Commission President Don Mason was supportive of McGee's comments, saying he is sure the state, WCEMA, along with the governor's office have sat down and discussed the response of the storm and how they can improve in the future. He also said that he would pass McGee's comments on to Ed Sapp, WCEMA director.
Gwen Carroll for the Council on Aging appeared before the commission to introduce them to the senior community service project. She says that usually seniors in the program are 55 and older, are retirees who need a supplement in combination with their retirement, or are on disability.
She says that usually those who are in the program are of low-income. Carroll added that those in the program would work for 20 hours a week and their pay would not come from the commission.
Mason added that the commission would need the workers at the 4-H grounds performing common laborious work such as mowing and trimming.
He did say that a decision would not be made on the matter until Vice President Bob Gorby is back from vacation.