The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 2, 2012

Generators get water plant pumping in Coal City

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

— Water flowed once again Thursday in beleaguered Coal City, after an overnight fire erased a double-wide trailer as firefighters stood helplessly by when the hoses ran dry in the wake of a massive snow blitz that prompted a power outage, closing a plant.

Two generators were hauled to the Raleigh County community to crank anew at the water plant, stalled after a power outage gripped several pockets of the region.

“People closest to the plant will get water first,” explained Barry Clyburn of the Raleigh County Public Service District, as officials began setting up the generators.

“That water line is just six inches big in diameter. Those furthest away will take longer to get water, depending on the usage of the customers before them. At least we’re able to pump now.”

While authorities scrambled to get the two generators moved into Coal City, county leaders hustled to get a third emergency generator for use in such crises.

County Administrator John Humphrey said he contacted all three commissioners by telephone and they gave their verbal assent to the purchase of a 150,000-kilowatt generator that normally runs about $90,000.

Since it is being purchased through the state, Humphrey said the device will only cost the county $53,000, and it is possible a portion of the cost will be borne by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A state of emergency has been declared in West Virginia, in the aftermath of a blizzard churned up by the collision of Hurricane Sandy and a cold front along the Eastern Seaboard on Monday.

Initially, it was believed the third generator would be shipped in from Charleston, but Humphrey said he learned later in the day it actually is being trucked from Georgia, meaning it likely won’t be here until next week.

For two days, the county courthouse was closed, save for early voting administered by a skeleton crew.

“Our big thing was to haul that snow off,” Humphrey said.

“We worked two days getting snow off the parking lots. There was so much snow it blocked places where people park. When we get six to eight inches, we have a problem getting the snow off the lots.”

Humphrey said a generator with the capacity of the new one the county is acquiring is needed when power failures shut off water supplies.

“A 150,000-kw generator would probably run the courthouse,” he said.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com