Thousands still without power in W.Va.
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 11:07
Eleven days after a violent storm hit the eastern United States and cut off power to millions, thousands of West Virginians still remain in the dark.
The storm brought winds more than 75 miles per hour and heavy rainfall, destroying infrastructure that left 688,000 W. Va. customers without power. With a population of approximately 1.9 million people, W.Va. was the state hit the hardest by the storm.
"Friday (June 29) night’s storm was part of a massive straight line wind storm that traveled close to 700 miles in 10 hours, devastating 10 states and leaving more than 4.3 million customers without electric service throughout the United States," according to the Appalachian Power Company’s website. "Company and state officials are characterizing the storm as similar to or even greater than a hurricane, but without advance warning."
As of Tuesday July 10, approximately 14,927 Appalachian Power customers are still without power, as well as 9,188 MonPower customers – totalling to approximately 24,115 customers across the state still in the dark.
After the first storm and several other smaller storms in the days following, Kanawha County faced some of the largest outages. More than 7,000 customers are still without electricity.
"We didn’t have power for almost a full week," said sophomore interior design student and Charleston resident Katie Lofflin. "We had a tree fall into our kitchen and many more fell just down the street from us. It was just absolutely crazy."
Restoration crews are diligently working 16-hour shifts to restore power across the state.
"We greatly appreciate our customers patience as our crews continue repairing the worst storm damage I have seen in more than 30 years with the company," said Jim Haney, president of West Virginia Operations with the power company FirstEnergy. "Because the remaining work is especially labor-intensive, with smaller numbers of customers being restored with each repair, we have revised the estimated restoration times for the remaining customers to better reflect the severe damage our crews continue to discover as they work out in the field."
Due to high temperatures, gasoline shortages and poor communication capabilities, the restoration process has been a long- delayed and painful for many.
Sophomore pre-sport and exercise psychology student and Putnam County resident Emily Stinespring said she was shocked to see the detrimental effects of the storm across the state.
"I have never experienced weather this severe as a West Virginia Native my entire life," she said. "As expected, many residents are extremely unhappy due to their lack of power. However, the power companies are doing all that they can– especially since West Virginia doesn’t have a huge amount of resources to handle for this type of problem."
The American Red Cross and various other organizations have set up cooling stations where customers without power may receive water and bags of ice.
"The Charleston Civic Center was set up as a station with water and ice for those who needed it," Lofflin said. "Between the heat and not having power, people were starting to get pretty angry. I saw people all over fighting over ice and gasoline – it was so crazy."
West Virginia University’s Center for Civic Engagement hosted an emergency water collection drive as part of the storm relief efforts Friday.
"The Red Cross has set up shelters and cooling stations all across the state where they are providing mass care. They’ve come out and said that their biggest need right now is water," said CCE program manager Brett White. "My hope is that members of the Morgantown community will reach into their hearts and buy a case of water or a few gallons of water to help out the cause."
The CCE was able to collect more 1,000 cases of water to be donated to relief efforts, filling two U-Haul trucks, and raised $2,000 for the cause.
"WVU has such a strong commitment to the state of West Virginia, and we always want to do our part," White said. "Anytime there is a natural disaster WVU jumps into action right away."
Many customers across the state are not projected to gain power again until today.
For more information on outages, the restoration process and other useful storm aftermath information visit two of West Virginia’s power companies’ websites www.firstenergycorp.com/outages or www.appalachianpower.com/outages/.