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Storm Causes Outages

By Staff | Mar 11, 2015

Danny Westfall took this photograph of a crew working hard along Doolin Run Road to restore power to customers in that area.

Last week’s snowstorm might have made for some beautiful photography, but it wreaked havoc on many area residents as they dealt with dangerous travel conditions and no electricity.

Todd Meyers of First Energy Corp stated Monday that First Energy expected to have electricity restored to everyone in the area by Tuesday evening. He noted that over 103,000 customers in West Virginia were without power at some time during this weather event.

“I would say at this point (Monday), we’ve restored about 100,000,” reported Meyers. As of Monday afternoon, Wetzel County still had 206 customers without power.

“It was a difficult storm for us,” Meyers noted. “What I found out that happened in your neck of the woods was the temperatures, when the snow came in, it was pretty warm, yet cold enough to snow. The snow you experienced was heavier and denser than what fell later on in the day and to the east. What that means is the snow was very clingy on the lines, very heavy, and the same with the trees. That’s why the damage we found was worse than what it was in some of the other places.

“We had brought in line crews from just about every First Energy Company. And I can tell you, because I was in Parkersburg, you couldn’t turn around without seeing a truck or a crew somewhere. There were crews from every one of our companies, all the Ohio companies, all the Pennsylvania companies, and from Maryland and New Jersey-so we had a lot of crews there.”

Wetzel Chronicle’s columnist Chuck Clegg sent in this photo of the massive ice jams at the Ohio River in New Martinsville. The three individuals stand on the river bank offer an interesting perspective of just how large the chunks of ice were. By Saturday afternoon the ice jam extended about a mile north of the dam, but by late Sunday afternoon the ice had flushed downstream.

Meyers stated that eventually there were 730 linemen working the storm, “and in addition to our own First Energy line that was helping Mon Power, there were a lot of contracted linemen as well. We also had an army of tree trimmers and they are still out there working.

“At the end, what you see that happens often times and what I was witness to, was a lot of work putting up lines and repairing poles, and doing that type of work. When you are done doing that, you only get a handful of customers on with each job. That’s by design. We go by the jobs first that bring on the largest number (of customers), but now you have a lot of jobs that have a lot of work, that bring on smaller numbers.

“We are out there in force,” Meyers noted.

“I tell you what, we can’t control the weather, but we certainly do feel for our customers when they go into numerous days without power. I’m glad the weather did warm up.”

Meyers noted Monday afternoon that the only new challenge First Energy foresaw were possibly rains forecasted to come into the area Tuesday, going into Wednesday. “That can cause small stream flooding,” he noted. “It can lead to access issues.”

With the massive power outages in the area Thursday, the Red Cross had established a shelter at New Martinsville’s United Methodist Church, located behind Captain Richard’s. Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management Director Ed Sapp had noted Thursday that his office would do whatever they could do about transporting those to the shelter that otherwise lacked the transportation. However, Sapp stated that even the Emergency Management Services were encountering issues on emergency calls, with the terrible road conditions. Sapp stated that EMS had to send an all-terrain-vehicle to one call.

Meyers had offered some tips Thursday to those who were going to weather the storm from their homes, despite not having electricity. Meyers tips are good to remember for future winter storms.

Meyers encouraged those who are going to “hang in your house” to take some precautions. “Go into an interior room, wear extra clothes, and use a sleeping bag. Use a fireplace safely. For illumination, use flashlights and battery-operated lanterns, but nothing that is a propane lantern. Do not use anything that you use for camping. Don’t bring in camp stoves. Don’t bring in charcoal grills. Those can create deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.”

“Don’t use your stove to try to warm the house up. Everything that belongs outdoors, needs to stay outdoors. If you have a generator, make sure you run it in a place where fumes can’t get inside, not in garages. Make sure it is hooked up properly by a professional.”

Meyers also encourages generator-users to think of the lineman when hooking up their generator. “What we can’t control is if someone has a generator and it’s not hooked up correctly, and it’s putting electricity back on the lines.”

Furthermore, “Stay away from downed lines. A storm like this has a lot of downed wires. Assume they are energized. We will get out there and make sure they are de-energized and safe.” Meyers states that to report downed lines call 1-888-544-4877.