PARKERSBURG - As power outages stretched for days - weeks for some - generators were among the hottest merchandize items in the aftermath of the 2012 derecho.
Hundreds of thousands of peopele throughout West Virginia were without electricty along with millions throughout the East Coast in the days following last year's windstorm.
While most of the models avaialble couldn't power an entire house, they were highly sought after to keep appliances and equipment like refrigerators and freezers in operation, and in some cases were essential for home medical equipment and similar needs.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Justin Tribett, assistant store manager with Lowe’s of Vienna, shows some of the portable generator models that consistently sold out in the aftermath of last year’s derecho. In mid-June of this year, concerns about a potential derecho also caused a spike in generator sales.
Mark Caudle, store manager of Lowe's in Vienna, said the business sold a lot of generators immediately after the storm.
On the first day after heavy winds knocked over countless trees and power lines, every generator was sold within 30 minutes of the store opening, he said. The Vienna store continued to get generator deliveries about twice a week, which quickly sold out as well, Caudle said.
Through July, Lowes was selling generators at a high rate, even after power was restored to most of the area, he said.
Caudle said the region was hit hard. Lowe's in Vienna worked with Mon Power and with the American Red Cross to help residents as a dropoff point for water and ice.
"We were here for the community," Caudle said.
The volume of generator sales dropped off within a couple of months after the windstorm, Caudle said. If people have some type of health issue that requires the availability of electricity, they are more prone to purchase a generator as a preventative measure.
For the most part, however, generator sales have been back at normal pre-storm levels for most of the past year, Caudle said.
"Buying a generator is more of an impulse purchase than a preventative measure. It's an impulse purchase - and an expensive one," he said.