The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

July 5, 2012

Holiday gives a little respite to those still doing without

BECKLEY — As some communities in the southern part of the state participated in Independence Day festivities Wednesday, many others were still trying to get the bare essentials.

Friday night’s storm knocked over half a million people out of electricity in the state and then residents got a second round of heavy rain and winds Sunday night, causing even more outages.

Thomas Taylor, mayor of White Sulphur Springs, said the majority of residents on Main Street have power now, but many outlying the town are still without.

“I’ve seen power crews working today and we have moved our shelter to the White Sulphur Civic Center cafeteria,” Taylor said.

Many customers are not expected to have power restored until Monday or Tuesday, Taylor said, but everyone is holding up.

Summers County residents are also still “in crisis mode,” according to a volunteer at the shelter at Sandstone Fire Department.

In addition to the 12 volunteer firefighters, many residents have pitched in to offer their help and deliver hot meals to the elderly.

“There are still trees down in roadways, no access over several bridges and many power lines are still down,” he said. “The community is pulling together, though, and we’re grilling hot meals at the fire department.”

Anyone in the area still without electricity is welcome to come to the Sandstone Fire Department for hot food, water and ice.

Rainelle Mayor Andy Pendleton said basically everyone in the area is still out of power, but “under the circumstances, we’re doing great.”

She has been helping direct traffic through the one gas station open in town. Ice and generators have been provided by the National Guard, and Pendleton said the community has been very grateful.

“No one is getting upset; everyone has been gracious and appreciative. We’re making it work with the situation we have.”

The Greenbrier Classic has been going on as scheduled, including Wednesday’s concert with Toby Keith and Lionel Richie, according to producer Gary Bowman.

Jim Justice, chairman and CEO of The Greenbrier resort, announced Tuesday that he would be launching a relief effort for those affected by the storms through “food from The Greenbrier Farms, manpower and dollars.”

As for the city of Lewisburg, Mayor John Manchester said about 70 percent of residents have had power restored and about 95 percent have water pressure back.

“There are still some pockets of higher elevations with low water pressure,” Manchester said. “We’re still trying to get water to them.”

He said city residents realize it is going to take awhile to put the pieces back together. “People are good-hearted all around this whole area. I think we all recognize this is a disaster, not of your everyday variety.”

Greenbrier County Commissioner Karen Lobban said the annual rubber ducky race will be postponed and a new date will be decided for the race and celebration at a meeting later this week.

Campers in Nicholas County aren’t letting the power outages affect them, according to Summersville Lake Retreat Campground and Cabins owners Steve and Donna Keblesh.

Steve said when the storm hit, many people were out on the lake and hiking in the woods.

“There were no injuries, but there was a lot of damage,” he said. “Around 100 trees were uprooted.”

Most of the area is still without power, but the campers are “winging it.”

“Folks are keeping their spirits up. We’re seeing some potluck camaraderie at the campfires,” he said.

Summers County Office of Emergency Management reported there are still 4,800 homes without power Wednesday as temperatures reached over 90 degrees.

Emergency personnel and volunteers are serving 1,000 meals a day, but more food donations are needed in the area.

Nonperishable food items, serving trays and disposable utensils can be donated to the Summers County Fire Department.

The outage numbers are slowly trickling down as Appalachian Power and Monongahela Power crews continue working around the clock, removing trees from power lines, repairing substations and replacing power poles.

Restoration dates remain the same for those without power. Greenbrier County residents with Monongahela Power should expect power restoration by Thursday or Friday night.

For Appalachian Power customers, Greenbrier, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Putnam and Summers counties have an expected restoration date of Friday night. Boone, Cabell, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Mason and Mingo are expected to have power by Saturday night. The remaining outages for Clay, Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Roane and Wyoming counties are expected to be wrapped up by Sunday night.

- - -

Power was partly restored at the New River water plant in Fayette County around midnight Tuesday, with full power returning around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The plant has been running on generators since Friday, but now customers in the Fayette County area should see their water pressure return to normal.

Some boosters and tanks are still running on generator power, as crews continue moving generators around to maintain tank levels until full power is restored throughout the system.

Customers can still bring containers to fill at West Virginia American Water filling stations at the Oak Hill Operations Center, located at 129 Highland Ave. in Oak Hill (near Plateau Medical Center).

They can also fill their containers at the Old Salem-Gatewood Public Service District office on Gatewood Road.

Several CVS employees at the Fairlea location have donated their time to provide the community with much-needed water.

Manager Josh Milam said more than 600 cases of water were distributed to those in need.

Associates Barbara Van Meter and Steven Withrow donated their time and energy to hand out a total of 615 cases of water.

“It’s great to be able to help out the community when they’re in need,” Milam said.

- - -

For residents still without power, multiple cooling stations, shelters and water filling stations have been established.

For Fayette County, cooling stations are available at Mount Hope Fire Department, Pax Fire Department, Valley Elementary (the high school has showers), and Meadow Bridge Town Hall. Shelters are available at Fayetteville Church of God and Oak Hill Lewis Center.

Water filling stations are set up at West Virginia American Water’s Oak Hill Operations Center, 129 Highland Ave. near Plateau Medical Center, and at the old Salem-Gatewood PSD office on Gatewood Road.

For Greenbrier County, cooling stations have been set up at Rainelle Medical Center, Rainelle Fire Department and Williamsburg Community Center.

For Monroe County, a cooling station is available at Union Senior Center and a shelter is located at Lindside Senior Center.

For Nicholas County, shelters are set up at Summersville Senior Center and Summersville Fire Department.

For Raleigh County, cooling stations are at Bradley Fire Department, Raleigh Dream Center and Food Lion in Sophia.

For Summers County, cooling stations are at Fire Station 51 in Talcott, Fire Station 12 in Sandstone, and Hinton Middle School on Temple Street. Shelter is available at Shepherd’s Care Family Worship Center in Hinton.

For Wyoming County, cooling stations are set up at the Wyoming County Courthouse Lobby and the Council on Aging in Itmann.

Residents staying at home should note the Department of Health and Human Resources has issued a boil water advisory for anyone who experienced no water or has low pressure or cloudy water. Water should be boiled vigorously for at least one minute before consumption. This advisory remains in effect until further notice.

Beckley Water, however, wants its customers to know that the boil water advisory does not affect those who never lost water pressure. The primary locations in the Beckley Water service area that experienced low pressure, no water or cloudy water are the communities of Tilden and Midway. Any other areas which experienced these conditions are also under the advisory, Beckley Water advises.

New River Community and Technical College’s Greenbrier Valley Campus in Lewisburg will remain closed today due to lack of power, but the Advanced Technology Center in Ghent will be open.

Concord University remains closed today. For further updates, sign up for the CU Emergency Alert System, or visit www.concord.edu.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic, located in Maxwelton, will reopen today at 8 a.m. For more information can contact the medical center at 304-255-2121 or 1-877-902-5142.

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