Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 1, 2012

Thousands remain powerless


BLUEFIELD — Halloween proved to be a little extra spooky for thousands across the region who spent the holiday in the dark.

Many families may have to wait until Friday before their electrical service is restored, according to Appalachian Power. Although power was restored Wednesday to an additional 55,000 customers, another 105,726 in West Virginia and 11,069 in Virginia were still without electricity as a result of the strong winds and snow caused by the remnants of Hurricane Sandy.

The neighboring towns of Pocahontas and Bramwell were both still in the dark Wednesday.

“We have no electricity in Pocahontas,” Tommy Childress, the Northern District representative on the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, said. “It (the electricity) hasn’t been on since Monday night. I’ve heard from the vice mayor that Appalachian Power hasn’t gotten any closer than Pinnacle Mountain. When the electricity went off in Pocahontas on Monday night, it was snowing a little bit. But we didn’t have any heavy snow or strong winds. People in Abbs Valley and Boissevain also don’t have electricity. I haven’t seen a single Appalachian Power truck in this area.”

Childress said an emergency heat shelter continues to operate out of Rescue 945 in Boissevain.

At least one woman in the Bramwell Hill area had to be relocated to a shelter at the Bluefield Salvation Army.

“We are in the process right now of getting a lady on the top of Bramwell Mountain,” Captain Jerry Lester of the Salvation Army in Bluefield, said. “She has been without power for two or three days. The lady has been going back and forth into her car trying to keep herself warm. We are going to bring her up here and keep her up here. We are getting people calling in here left and right for food and kerosene and things of that nature. We are getting quite a few calls, and our food supply is starting to go down. So we need monetary donations to help get it re-supplied.”

Lester said those without power or food are asked to contact the Salvation Army at 304-952-2705 or 304-327-7411 so that arrangements can be made to transport them to the Bluefield shelter.

Shelters remain open at both the Salvation Army in Bluefield and Princeton, according to Mercer County Emergency Services Director Tim Farley.

“This is not the first time we’ve had power outages in Mercer County, and it won’t be the last,” Farley said. “They (those who have not gone to shelters) are staying at home, or have gone to friends or neighbors to find a warmer spot.”

Farley said weather conditions are expected to improve each day, which should help with power restoration efforts.

“They (Appalachian Power) have line crews, and tree crews,” Farley said. “They are going with them to cut trees off lines. I expect we are seeing a better improvement today as far as power outages go.”

Appalachian Power reported 1,759 outages Wednesday in Mercer County; 2,873, McDowell County; 2,515, Tazewell County; 2,639, Buchanan County; and 7,083 in Wyoming County.

“I think pretty much in the area you guys service Friday night is when we anticipate we will have the vast majority of folks on,” Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye said. “Actually what we are saying is 90 percent of the customers impacted by the storm will be back on by Friday night.”

Moye said the power outage in question impacting the Pocahontas and Bramwell areas was most likely caused by a Boissevain line with a broken cross arm, and trees on the line.

“A cross arm is when you see on the top of the pole there is an arm or wooden arm that would run parallel to the ground and that is what the line rests on,” Moye said. “That’s a cross arm.”

Although it was still snowing — Moye said weather conditions on Wednesday had improved allowing Appalachian Power crews to make progress.

“We are making progress pretty much across our service area,” Moye said. “We are in a restoration process. The first thing we do is look at critical infrastructure — things that would effect entire communities such as hospitals, water plants, etc. If we can get those things back on, we will do that. In conjunction with that we send out damage assessment specialists and they assess damage and tell us what equipment and people will be needed to make the repairs, and that helps us prioritize when we are going to work those jobs. Our aim is always to get as many people back on as quickly as we can.”