With Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast and memories of the June derecho lingering in the collective local memory, area residents hoped for the best but prepared for the worst Monday.
Local grocery stores continued to refill their shelves as area residents stocked up on the basics.
"A lot of people talk about it, and I think a lot of people are worried about the river and also about the electric staying on," said Food 4 Less manager Bucky Lee.
The Associated Press
People watch waves crash in Hampton, N.H., from the effects of Hurricane Sandy Monday.
Though the store had not sold out of bread or water, they had a noticeable uptick in business, said Lee.
Shopping at Giant Eagle with her mother, 14-year-old Williamstown resident Catherine Gottschalk said she was getting ready to ride the storm out in her basement with her pets.
"My mom isn't preparing for the storm, but I do," she said.
For river level predictions, visit www.mariettaoh.net/services/river_cam
For updates on road closings, visit the Washington County Sheriff's Office's Facebook or Twitter pages; both can be accessed via the office's website at www.washingtoncountysheriff.org
For general storm updates, or to report dangerous conditions, contact Washington County Emergency Management Agency at 373-5613.
To report a power outage:
- American Electric Power customers call (800) 672-2231.
- Washington Electric Cooperative customers call 373-2141 or (877) 594-9324.
- Allegheny Power customers call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877).
Today: Rain and snow, becoming all rain after 9 a.m. High near 44. Breezy, with a west wind around 21 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Tonight: Rain. Low around 38. West wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Wednesday: Rain. High near 45. West wind 9 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Wednesday night: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 37. West wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Thursday: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 48. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Source: National Weather Service.
Gottschalk was living with her grandmother in Columbus, Miss. when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and still has memories of taking care of her little brother and watching trees crash down around them during the storm.
Now, when a storm is lingering on the horizon, she always takes precautions to make sure her cat, Maci, and her two dachshunds, Sassy and Ginger, are safe and sound.
"I take some blankets and candles and food, and I will sleep down there with them during the storm," she said.
Local officials have also been preparing for any possible onslaught. Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews met with staff from the water, sewer, police, fire and streets departments Monday morning to discuss what factors might affect the city.
"We are kind of waiting to see what type of emergency we might have," said Matthews.
Matthews thinks the biggest worry will be rising river levels, which are heavily affected by the rain levels upriver.
Late Monday, the National Weather Service was predicting the Ohio River will crest around 26.4 feet around 1 a.m. Thursday. Though these predictions are subject to fluctuations, that's not likely to go up much more, said Andrew Beavers, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The current predicted crest is eight and half feet below flood level, said Beavers.
However, after rainwater that fell north of the area comes downriver, there could be higher water or flooding in the days to come. Farther north along the Ohio River, Pittsburgh has also been getting steady rain with at least two more inches expected to fall there through Wednesday.
Power companies are also lying in wait.
Jeff Rennie, spokesman for American Electric Power, said they are not expecting damage like that seen during the June windstorm, when some were left without power for more than a week.
"For southeastern Ohio we are expecting sustained winds of 25 to 30 miles per hour and wind gusts of 45 to 50 mph," said Rennie. A wind advisory is set to expire at 5 p.m. today.
In June, those gusts reached around 80 mph, Rennie added.
Though optimistic, Rennie said AEP has all its resources posed to respond.
"After the storm hits, we are going to determine how bad our damage is in our service territory and if we have minimal damage, we might be able to assist other companies who saw the worst of it," he said.
Many residents rushed to purchase generators after June's storm. With Hurricane Sandy looming near, that demand has resurfaced. The Marietta Lowe's sold out of generators on Friday, said manager Warren Cardiff.
"They are obviously worried about what happened in the derecho and they don't want to be in that same situation, especially if it is going to be cold," said Cardiff.
Rennie reminded residents who do own generators to refrain from plugging them directly into outlets in the home because they can send electricity back into the power lines and endanger power company employees.
Not everyone has been preparing for the worst.
Veto resident Dan Plum, 62, had only a couple of bags in hand as he left Giant Eagle Monday. A little rain and a little wind is all he is expecting. But Plum noted that the atmosphere in the grocery store was tense.
"Every time we get a little rain here, they freak out," mused Plum.