Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


October 31, 2012

Digging out: ‘Frankenstorm’ a Halloween monster

They said it would be the storm of the century. They were correct. Now, the long road to recovery begins for the East Coast, and residents across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

Locally, thousands are still without power, and it could take several more days before service is restored to all. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 127,000 customers of Appalachian Power were without electricity, including 4,739 in Mercer County; 7,244 in Wyoming County; 9,824 in McDowell County; 5,756 in Tazewell County; 5,443 in Buchanan County; 486 in Giles County and 592 in Bland County.

Appalachian Power says priority is initially given to restoring circuits that deliver electricity to essential public safety facilities such as hospitals, 911 calls centers, water treatment plants, and police and fire stations.

Next, the company will perform repairs to restore electric service to the largest pockets of customers in the shortest amount of time. In some instances, according to the company, a single repair can restore service to hundreds if not thousands of customers.

Appalachian Power crews will then move on to make repairs to portions of circuits that restore service to smaller pockets of customers. Those repairs, which will normally reach a dozen or more customers when completed, are more common in remote areas across our region where families will often go for days — if not a week or more — without electricity following major storms.

In the final stage of the company’s power restoration phase, service is restored to individual homes and businesses. Based upon what has happened with the superstorm, or “Frankenstorm” as it has been called, many across our region could be in for a lengthy wait before the lights come back on.

This is not a new experience for our region. We’ve been through such storms before, and will undoubtedly experience them again in the future. A few monsters come to mind. The Great Blizzard of 1993. The monster snowstorm of 2009 that left thousands across the region in the dark, and served as a dreadful prelude to the snowmageddon storms of 2010 and 2011. The great floods of 2001 and 2002. And of course the surprise straight-line derecho wind storm that left thousands across our region in the dark during a stifling heat wave this past summer. Now we are in the dark during an unseasonably cold Halloween.

But folks across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia are tough. We will endure. We always do. We have survived floods of historic proportions. We have survived a crippling blizzard. We have survived widespread power outages before — both in the bitter cold and the crippling heat. Those of us who live in the coalfields are used to adversity. It brings out the best in us.

But if you need help, please call 911. There are emergency shelters set up across the region. Help is available if your home becomes too cold, or you run out of emergency supplies. In the meantime, keep the faith, and try to stay warm. With hope the electricity will be back on sooner rather than later.

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