Roanoke County readies for weekend snowstorm

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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) If you head around the side of the Green Ridge Recreation Center, you'll notice a massive, new addition: a $350k generator.

The county is ready to turn the rec center into a so-called "conditioning center" should severe weather -- or any emergency -- strike.

"We're not looking at any kind of long-term operation hopefully," Roanoke County Fire & Rescue's Brian Clingenpeel said. "But if we did have to provide a few meals for one night or one morning -- something like that --they could come and support us in doing that."

When drivers were stranded on Interstate 81 in the 2009 snowstorm, dozens of people ended up bunking at Fort Lewis Fire Station.

"The fire station is just not conducive to having 60 people come and stay," Clingenpeel said. "We had them in the back of an ambulance and some in the training room, and other places."

The generator was purchased with money from capital improvement and emergency management funds.

Clingenpeel says they're ready to roll out cots and charging stations if needed, a collaboration with Roanoke County Parks Red & Tourism, Social Services, as well as the American Red Cross.