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WAYNE – The winter storm that crippled Wayne County late February was brutal. High winds, heavy snow, frigid temperatures, and mass power outages crippled sections of the county for days. At one point, up to 60 percent of county residents were without power.

News reports showed ice-covered roads, uprooted trees and downed power lines.

In the face of all that, the folks who run Charter House Apartments were not going to abandon the people who live there. The apartment complex serves those who are 62 and older and those with disabilities.  

For seven days, the building and surrounding area had no power. For a vulnerable population, like the folks who live at Charter House, this could be deadly.

The team at the residence jumped into action. They were prepared for this situation, having purchased a large generator a few years back. They used it to provide heat and power to the first-floor community spaces and the hallways, power one elevator and fire up emergency lighting.  

Staff cooked hot meals, residents had their medical needs met and wellness visits were made to those who couldn’t leave their apartments, according to Pam Hawkins with Millennia Housing Management, the company that manages Charter House.

“Our staff was great,” Hawkins said. She said Virginia Lowe, the property manager, and Lute Hall, a maintenance technician, stayed on site for the duration of the power outage, never leaving the property.

“Virginia, Lute and Beecher Robertson, another maintenance technician, cooked large meals in the community room, served residents three times a day and delivered meals to those that were not able to leave their apartments,” Hawkins said.

She added that the generator needed to be continually refueled and monitored.

“Our team went above and beyond,” Hawkins said. “Had they not stepped up like they did, it’s scary to think what would have happened.”

She added that, in addition to the rigors of keeping everyone safe, fed and in good health, the team worked to foster a real sense of community during the struggle.

Hawkins noted the National Guard, two local fire departments and several others in the area helped to get supplies and resources to Charter House.

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund works with Charter House to help maintain compliance with federal and state housing regulations.