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Lewis County Reviews Responses To Storms

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Many different groups, from area hospitals to county fire departments, met at the Lewis County EMS Building Monday to discuss their strengths and challenges in their responses to the June derecho and Superstorm Sandy.

The derecho knocked out power lines to homes, some for more than a week after the storm. Residents tried to beat the heat at fire department cooling stations, but they couldn't fill the whole need, something the group wants to address.

"One suggestion is we look at means other than fire departments to provide cooling and warming stations for the citizens, and we've done that through a grant a couple years ago in the Ireland Community Building, and a bunch of citizens down there to do that," said Bill Rowan, director of the Lewis County Office of Emergency Management.

Then just before Halloween, Superstorm Sandy blew through, knocking out power again and dumping feet of snow in parts of the county. But this time the county was better prepared, something these meetings work towards.

"I think anybody was more prepared and with these meeting that we had today, that'll just continue to help us be more prepared to help in any situation, and I think that's good for both the agencies as well as the citizens of the county," said Lewis County Commissioner Agnes Queen.

Rowan said the residents of the county and emergency responders played a big role in keeping people safe, and that he'll keep preparing for the next event.

"We're all in this together, and we'll get through it all together. The only thing we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst," said Rowan.

Rowan's already taken some ideas from the meeting Monday and will be working to update the county's emergency plan to reflect the lessons learned from those storms.