Businesses step in to help in storm aftermath

RANSON – While the June 29 storm left a number of businesses without power and forced to close, the storm’s aftermath has boosted traffic at many restaurants and hotels across the area.

By July 1, many locals had checked into the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown – which offered discounted rates – and other local hotels for a respite from the heat. They also crowded into eateries seeking hot food, chilled drinks, the chance to cool off and to power up cell phones and laptops.

Businesses are stepping in to help out, too. Vivo Day Spa in Harpers Ferry donated money to buy dozens of Happy Meals for young people whose families lacked power. 

Sandy Hite, the threat preparedness coordinator for the Jefferson County Health Department, stands next to packages of bottled water donated by Walmart that were distributed to residents who came to a cooling center set up at Washington High School. Two other cooling centers were set up at Jefferson High School and Wildwood Middle School.

River Riders, at 408 Alstadts Hill Road in Harpers Ferry, offered a free cookout with burgers, hot dogs and side dishes for Jefferson County residents on Tuesday. “We know a lot of people still don’t have power and can’t cook dinner,” said Liz Guidroz,  the company’s marketing executive. “We love this community and want to give back where there’s a need.”

Walmart also helped out, donating hundreds of bottles of water for health department officials to give out at cooling stations. The store also provided packs of peanut butter crackers and other snacks as well as baby wipes so that visitors could wipe down, according to Jefferson County health office administrator Amy Jones.

Martin’s supermarkets partnered with the Red Cross and FirstEnergy power company to provide bottles of water and bags of ice to those without power.

Immediately after the storm, many businesses found themselves in the dark. Convenience stores, the Jumpin’ Java coffee shop, Sokel Makeup & Skincare, bars and other businesses were closed downtown. Even McDonald’s and other fast-food businesses along East Washington Street spent the weekend shuttered.

Immediately after the storm, residents bought out local stores’ supplies of bagged ice in an effort to keep the contents of their fridges and freezers cold. 

Some residents called on loved ones living outside the storm zone to purchase and deliver them ice or even power generators. Stores here had sold out of generators within hours of the storm.

But as the power outage continued, those without generators were forced to throw out reams of spoiled food. By early this week, supermarkets were hopping. As power crews restored service, many homeowners headed out to restock, at times stripping store shelves bare of milk and other essentials.

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