Storms leave 688k powerless
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 08:07
An intense storm system ravaged parts of the eastern United States Friday, leaving more than 688,000 customers in West Virginia without power.
The storm, known as a derecho, was an aggressive thunderstorm consisting of wind speeds of more than 75 miles per hour joined by heavy rains.
The storm damaged power lines and transformers in 53 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. In response, both West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and President Barack Obama have declared a state of emergency in West Virginia.
Gas shortages, high temperatures and communication problems have limited restoration efforts that continued through the weekend.
However, Morgantown has largely avoided the effect of the storm.
"We had about 30 calls the night of the storm, 100 percent of which were storm related," said Lieutenant Robert Cover of the Morgantown Fire Department.
He said the two most serious calls were related to downed power lines, which pose a fatal public safety hazard.
"We were required to have personnel watching those, to safeguard the public," he said. Due to other emergencies, power company technicians were delayed in fixing the wires.
"Since they were live wires and the power companies were so tied up, we had people posted at those lines for 27 hours," Cover said.
A large walnut tree also fell across Virginia Avenue, and it took teams nearly an hour to unblock the street.
Most of the fire department’s calls were about downed trees, Cover said.
"We had a lack of sleep Friday night," he said. "Everybody was worn out and covered in sawdust from cutting up trees."
MonPower and Appalachian Power, two of West Virginia’s power providers, have reported that response teams are working to rebuild power structures throughout the state.
Power was restored to parts of Morgantown Monday night. Other parts of the state won’t have power until later in the week, according to estimates from power companies.
Across the East Coast, it is estimated that more than four million people are without power.
The University has offered assistance to emergency responders in the area. West Virginia University Housing and Dining services has offered help to responders such as power company linesmen, truck drivers and others who find themselves stranded in the Morgantown area.
Similarly, if meals are needed, Dining Services has offered to assist. Contact University Police Chief Bob Roberts to learn more.
For tips on being safe during storms, power outages and other disasters, visit http://fh.ext.wvu.edu/food_safety/power_outages.