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Derecho prepared some residents for storm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Following the June 29 derecho, some area residents took steps to be prepared in the wake of storms and power outages.

That foresight is coming in handy now.

The storm that swept over the state on June 29 knocked out power for several days for many area residents. As this week's winter storm approached, there were those who were ready.

Howard "Mo" Persinger had power at his Charleston law office but none at his South Hills home on Tuesday.

"I have a gasoline generator that will run lights, refrigerator and heat," Persinger, 43, said when contacted on his cellphone. "I am filling cans with gas right now."

That generator was purchased in the midst of the derecho, he said. He got up on a Saturday morning and went to Lowe's and Home Depot in search of a backup source of power. He left empty-handed. He finally had success at Sears.

"It was 10 a.m. when I got in line," he recalled. "I got the last one."

He and his wife have 6-year-old twin daughters who are not bothered by a power outage, he said. However, he has done his best to make sure his family is comfortable.  He was prepared in advance with lanterns, flashlights, batteries and plenty of water.

Melinda and Sam Sutton live in South Hills with their four children ranging in age from 7 to 13. When the lights flickered at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Suttons immediately made reservations at a local hotel. Then they lost power.

"Last summer taught us it could last longer than a day or two," Melinda said.

They were prepared this time with water, food, batteries and flashlights. They made sure laundry was caught up and firewood was plentiful before the power outage. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, they were enjoying the crackling fire and making plans to head to the hotel if they still had no electricity by dark.

Melinda is a substitute teacher. Sam, who works in sales, canceled a trip to Pittsburgh. Undaunted by the power outage, the children went into the backyard to play in the snow.

"That is a one-time deal," Melinda said. "There is no way to dry their clothes."

Shawna Meeks lives in a subdivision off Connell Road with her husband, Doug, and their two children ages 7 and 12. The family lost power about 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

"We have plenty of flashlights, a gas range and gas logs in the house," Shawna said. "I have one jug of water but we didn't have problems with water during the derecho. We have warm blankets, sleeping bags and a decent supply of canned goods."

She is likely popular with the neighbors because she made a huge pot of chili with plans to share.

Kathi and Al Dery of Kanawha City lost power for two days during the derecho. They were ready for another power outage on Tuesday and felt lucky that it did not happen.

In case of another power outage, Kathi said they are stocked with essentials such as food, firewood, toilet paper, wine and quilts.

"When the power went out before (during the derecho), Al took everything out of the freezer, cooked it on the grill, and we shared with the neighbors," Kathi said.

This week, they have been looking out for family with no power by opening their home and feeding them. They have also helped deliver food to an outreach center in Kanawha City.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246. 


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