Generators became a prime target for thieves following last year's derecho. Frontier Communications had 20 generators stolen, and police were able to recover only five.
The report recommends utilities coordinate with local law enforcement to patrol the areas near generators. State Police patrolled near generators following another round of widespread outages last fall after Hurricane Sandy and generator thefts "dropped significantly," reviewers found.
Reviewers recommended power restoration efforts be prioritized to first ensure "preservation of life" and public safety and then to move on to the largest service areas.
Colleges and universities also should be considered high priority in power restoration efforts since they serve large groups of people, the report says.
Utility companies should have designated contacts within the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and should increase their efforts to cut trees around utility lines, it says.
In what probably comes as a surprise to many state residents -- especially those who waited in long lines at gas stations after the derecho -- the after action review claims "there was not a gasoline shortage in West Virginia."
"There was, instead, a perceived shortage because West Virginians rushed to the pumps in a panic, exhausting the supply on hand before it could be restocked," the report said.
A footnote in the report acknowledges a real shortage did exist in some areas of the state, where panicking customers overwhelmed stations.
"In these locations, the panic caused the shortage," the report said.
Since gas shortages made it difficult for emergency personnel and utility workers to fill their vehicles and generators, the report recommends the Department of Homeland Security begin rationing gasoline during future statewide emergencies.
The report also encourages private gas stations to set aside certain pumps during emergencies to be used only by emergency vehicles.
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