Storms Strike Ohio Valley
Wetzel County, like much of the Ohio Valley, experienced horrendous weather activity Aug. 4. City police, emergency crews, and public service crews all responded to emergency calls and tended to fallen trees and utility lines following the powerful thunderstorms experienced Aug. 4.
New Martinsville volunteer firefighters were first summoned to their own station on Ohio Street prior to the onslaught of storms at 2 p.m. where they found that a camper had struck the three-phase electrical service to their building resulting in an explosion and fire that self extinguished prior to the arrival of fire personnel.
James Long of 414 Ohio Street struck the electrical service with a camper that he was moving along the North side of the building. Quick action by the City Electric Department and electrician Jody Brown allowed the department’s electrical service to be temporarily restored. According to Fire Chief Larry W. Couch, the department’s emergency generator provides power for minimal service in the building in the event of an outage. However, they had to make arrangements for repairs that would allow them to operate as close to normal as possible.
The New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department reported that calls for storm damage began coming into the department at 4:23 p.m. and continued through the early evening totaling as many as 13 calls, broken down as follows:
Tree and limbs down on utility lines at the intersection of Leap and Fourth Streets; tree down and blocking the street on West Drive; utility lines down at the Foundry and Dunlap Streets intersection; tree down and blocking the roadway on state Route 2 near the Marshall/Wetzel County line; utility lines down and in the roadway on Orchard Drive; utility lines down and in the roadway in the Hillside Community in Steelton; power lines on a car with passengers inside on Beechwood Drive; tree down on a camper and a car at the Wetzel County 4-H Grounds near the animal shelter; several trees down and in the roadway on Whiteman Hill Road; tree on a house at 366 Franklin Street; utility lines on a vehicle at 614 Wood Street; and a tree in the roadway on state Route 7 near Rolling Acres.
According to Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management Director Ed Sapp, 17 calls were made on Aug. 4, most of which included utility lines. At that time Sapp reported 271 households in the county were without power.
“When we have a large volume of calls like this, we typically respond to assess the damage and danger to the public. We will typically isolate any danger area, and of course make any needed rescues,” said Couch.
“We will try to open roads and streets if we can do so without endangering the firefighters and if we have the necessary equipment to perform that task,” Couch continued. He went on to say that in most cases where the tree(s) belong to property owners, the trees will be cleared of the public right of way and the department will direct the proper services or guide the property owner on how to proceed with removal.
New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Director Bev Gibb reported a large willow tree at the entrance to the Lewis Wetzel Park was struck Wednesday. Parks and Recreation crews have started clean-up, but some debris remains.
“The street and electric department were right with us and even ahead of us on some of these calls Wednesday, I think that shows what a good working relationship all the departments have in getting folks’ lives back to normal as quickly as possible,” Couch commended.