CHARLESTON (AP) - With thousands of residents still without electricity or water service, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday announced a review of how West Virginia responded to the recent series of violent summer storms that battered the state.
Tomblin said he wants to learn what went right and what didn't in the aftermath of storms that began June 29 and left an estimated 1.4 million of the state's 1.8 million residents without power at some point.
The review will involve state agencies, county and local emergency management offices, 911 centers and the National Guard. It will also include utilities, hospitals, nursing homes and volunteer groups.
Joann Linaburg looks at a snapped utility pole in her front yard July 1 in Martinsburg, W.Va.
"I want to be sure we learn from this experience, and that we are prepared should the state ever face an even greater emergency in the future," the governor said in a statement.
Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jimmy Gianato will oversee the review along with National Guard Major Gen. James Hoyer and Peter Markham, Tomblin's general counsel.
Officials blamed the storms, which tore through six states and Washington D.C., and their aftermath for 26 deaths. But just one person was killed in West Virginia, when a man riding an all-terrain vehicle in the dark struck a fallen tree. Hoyer counted that outcome among the state's strong points. He also said state and federal emergency officials handed out 9.5 million bottles of water and 400,000 prepackaged meals. The latter figure does not include hot meals served by the National Guard, Red Cross and others, Hoyer added.
"Regarding those significant life-safety issues, overall we feel comfortable that we did well," Hoyer said Wednesday. "We supported the citizens well, but there are always areas where we can do better."
Such areas include compiling a list of the size and type of generators that each Public Service District needs to maintain water service, Hoyer said.
"If there are things that can reduce stress on our citizens, we want to look at that," he said.