Derecho 2012, Why it’s important to report storm damage

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - June 29, 2012 was supposed to be Rockingham County Fire Chief Robbie Symons last day of work as he retired from the county. After working a full day, Symons went to a ballgame in Bridgewater with his brother.

“He kept poking at me, saying something looked funny back to West Virginia. I said you need to chill out this was my last day at work.”

But this storm was different.

Symons says, “so eventually I turned around and I was like, that does look kinda weird. We saw lightning, decided to leave and they called the game. It was like a whirlwind out there of dust, and I went home. The longer it went on the worse the winds got. The power went out.”

As the storm raged on across the area with winds of 60-80 miles an hour, there were widespread down trees, and power outages across the entire area.

June 29, 2012 was Jeremy Holloways first day as the new Fire Chief, he was promoted from being the deputy Fire Chief. Holloway’s big challenge was to call emergency crews back in to assist those in need.

Holloway says, “what we had run into though was, we had people that couldn’t get to the station, due to trees down and roads blocked.” Both Holloway and Symons want to remind the community that during these larger events, emergency crews leave their homes and families to come to work. Sometimes they have to battle with damage too, especially if they can’t leave their home due to damage or trees down.

The first full day of retirement on June 30th, Symons was back on the job.

Holloway actually tried to call Symons in on that Friday night but trees down on his property and blocking the driveway prevented Symons from coming in. “The very next morning, early I called Chief Symons, can you come in and assist me with this. This is something more than a thunderstorm”

It was the entire emergency services crew, city officials, public works working together to help the community through the storm.

But they also need your help, in reporting storm damage.

Holloway says, “Contact your local emergency management department. If we don’t know where the damage is, it’s hard to report that and it’s important to report that damage. If it’s state wide, it all goes into a figure, can we federal assistant back for our localities.”

To report storm damage:

If it’s an emergency of course you call 9-11.

If this is a larger or more widespread event, your locality may set up a certain phone line or social media for you to contact and report damage.

For other storm damage, an individual storm you can report that to WHSV or upload photos with a location on our website. We submit all storm reports to the National Weather Service so this is important for Meteorologists to go back and look at a storm, or for emergency managers to do Damage Assessments. When you submit a report it’s important to include the exact location, but your address will not be published anywhere.

Submit photos on WHSV

You can submit storm damage photos with details and a location

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The National Weather Service storm report database is updated daily and a report comes out once a month. Again your personal address will not be published. It may look like: ‘4 large trees down at the 1200 block of Mason street in Harrisonburg.’

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