The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 2, 2012

Hundreds of thousands still without power

Shelters situated throughout region

BECKLEY — Although hundreds of thousands of customers are still without electricity, Appalachian Power spokesperson Phil Moye said more than 100,000 customers have had power restored.

Many line workers have traveled from southern states to assist restoration efforts, which Moye said has helped out tremendously.

Workers from Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia have been hard at work, according to Moye, restoring power Saturday and Sunday.

“The unfortunate part of that progress is that we still have a long way to go,” Moye said. “It’s just an unprecedented number of customers out in a summer storm.”

Along with the power outages, water is scarce throughout many areas in the state. The Greenbrier County Health Department has closed due to the shortage of water, according to their website. They reported that staff will be on call and handling emergency issues and anyone with a medical emergency should dial 911.

Power restoration is expected by Thursday night for Fayette, Jackson, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Raleigh and Wyoming counties, and Friday night for Cabell, Kanawha, McDowell, Mercer, Putnam, Summers and Wayne counties, according to Appalachian Power.

“For us, a big storm is 60,000 to 70,000 customers out of service,” Moye said. “Here we had 566,000. To be able to knock it down by around 100,000 in two days is a lot of progress.”

Moye said he believes many customers will be restored by the predicted dates, but there may be a few stragglers if they encounter unforeseen circumstances.

“Our prioritization in restoring power after a storm is to try and get as many people back on as quickly as we can. We work on those large outages that affect large numbers of customers. That’s what we do first. Then we work our way out to the outages where only a few customers are affected.”

Moye said the damage across the area was pretty evenly distributed due to the nature of the storm.

This type of widespread, long-lived, straight-line violent windstorm is known as a “derecho,” which is the Spanish word meaning “straight.”

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service reported that the storms traveled approximately 600 miles in 10 hours. These types of storms occur most frequently in the Midwest and Great Lakes area between May and July, often forming along the northern boundary of a hot air mass, near the jet stream where upper level winds zip along at high speeds.

Wind speeds peaked in West Virginia between 60 and 80 miles per hour, damaging structures, bringing down trees and leaving many residents without power in extreme heat conditions.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a state of emergency Friday and by Saturday afternoon, President Barack Obama declared the state a national area of emergency, authorizing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency to make aid available to supplement state and local response efforts.

State residents will get a bit of a break with the temperatures, William Perry, a meteorologist at the NWS in Blacksburg, Va., reported.

He said the extreme temperatures will decrease slightly during the next few days, with a high of 89 for today and Tuesday, and a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms both afternoons.

For those who are still without electricity, many local shelters have been set up to provide medical assistance, food, water and air conditioning to those in need.

In Fayette County, shelters have been established at the Lewis Center in Oak Hill, as well as the First Church of God in Fayetteville.

In Greenbrier County, assistance is being provided at Rainelle Medical Center and Fire Station 32 for the elderly and those with medical conditions.

The Rainelle Fire Department is offering one case of water per family and although the Raymond Christian Center has no air conditioning, food and water is available.

All fire departments in Nicholas County are providing shelter and assistance, as well as the Nicholas County Senior Center.

Shelters are also set up in Richwood at Liberty Baptist Church and the Food and Clothing Pantry, as well as in Craigsville at the Sheltered Workshop.

For Raleigh County residents, shelter is available at the Dream Center, located behind the Family Worship Center on Pinewood Drive. A shelter is available for elderly residents who need oxygen at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging on South Kanawha Street.

In Summers County, air conditioning and water is available at Fire Station 51 in Talcott and at Hinton Middle School on Temple Street in Hinton. Water is being provided at Fire Station 12 in Sandstone. Shelter, air conditioning, food and water will also be available at Sheperd’s Care Family Worship Center in Hinton.

Wyoming County residents can seek shelter and assistance at Oceana City Hall. The EOC reports that two additional shelters will be set up today.

Currently, there are no shelters established in Monroe County, but the EOC says one should be set up today.

Andy Wessels, public relations director at Mountain State University, said the university will be closed today for students, faculty and staff. Wessels said the university will reopen Tuesday for regularly scheduled Summer 2 classes.

For the latest updates on local storm recovery, power restoration and cleanup efforts, check out Beckley Ready on Facebook.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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