Thousands of Wetzel County residents are still without power after a storm Friday evening that included winds reaching 70 miles per hour.
The New Martinsville Electric Department, with assistance from the Wadsworth, Ohio, Electric Department and Erb Electric of Wheeling got their power back on Monday at approximately 6:30 p.m. after some 70 hours without power. While that certainly helped bring relief to many, there are still pockets of customers without service in the city and across the county. Monday night Mon Power was reporting that 4,851 customers in Wetzel County were still without power. They are predicting that the service should be restored to all by later this week.
Dave White, head of the NMED, said his crews and those from Wadsworth and Erb worked tirelessly and well together to tackle the huge issue on First Street where six of the nine broken poles in the city were located. Not only was the problem massive in number, but also in affect. Mon Power's feed of electric into the city's system is located on the tops of those poles. So until that could be repaired, the entire system was without power.
The Jay Cunningham dental office on East Benjamin Drive, New Martinsville, had a huge tree fall on it, causing much damage.
White said the city was very fortunate to have the assistance from the other two entities. As a member of AMP, Inc., White sent out a call for mutual aid and Wadsworth sent a crew immediately. With the three crews and numerous utility vehicles, they were able to lift lines and make easier work of the repairs. Of course it was still a long and tedious task.
White said the crew from Wadsworth had been to several emergency jobs in the past and they told him, "We've seen some bad stuff, and this is bad."
While repairing the main feed was really a job for Mon Power, White said the city knew it would take the large electric utility quite some time to get to this job when the had experienced so much outage on their own system-78 percent of their customers. So the city requested and finally obtained permission to take on the job and get Mon Power's final okay before the power was turned back on.
White said the assistance from Wadsworth and Erb also allowed some of the city's crew to tackle other jobs throughout their system so more customers would be restored when the main feed was connected.
No only did the city's electric crew work hard, but White said the entire municipal team worked to make life easier for the town's residents during the emergency. "All the city's departments came together as a working unit to respond and react to the disaster," said White. "It was a real group effort. That's what's so nice about this city."
He also thanked the community for supporting their work, namely Quinet's Court Restaurant, Wetzel County Hospital, Boy Scout Troop 128, City Hall, New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department, Bridgeport Equipment, Witschey's, Ace Home Center, New Martinsville Parks and Recreation, New Martinsville Water Department, New Martinsville Police Department, and New Martinsville Street Department.
Paden City Mayor John Hopkins said Monday that his city is nearly back normal, with only a backup well, #4, causing some problems. Hopkins said residents are urged to conserve water until further notice. He noted that a cooling station was opened at St. Paul United Methodist Church over Friday and Saturday when electrical service was interrupted, but there appears to be no need for it any longer. There continues to be a cooling shelter at the Lewis Wetzel Family Center in New Martinsville.
Hopkins reported no known injuries, deaths or criminal activity during the bad weather, as did New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil.
Cecil said his department helped evacuate critical patients from New Martinsville Care and Rehabilitation Center to Wetzel County Hospital Monday. Except for a generator reported stolen Sunday, he said there have been no known law enforcement issues. "Most people were helping, not hurting." Cecil added that he has increased 24-hour patrols in the downtown New Martinsville area to prevent looting and theft from commercial and residential property owners.