Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 9, 2012

More heat arrives, as power to cool returns to hundreds

BLUEFIELD — Be sure to ask for a second cup of lemonade today from a Lemonade Lassie or Lad in your part of the two Bluefields as the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce makes good on its promise to serve free lemonade on any day that the local temperature exceeds 90 degrees.

In the meantime, the number of Appalachian Power Co., customers who are still without power continue to trend downward. In Mercer County, the number of APCO customers without power shrunk to 981 late Sunday afternoon. In Giles County, Va., the number of outages was cut in half from 2,232 APCO customers out on Saturday to 1,256 customers without power on Sunday.

“We are, very much, headed in the right direction,” Phil Moye, spokesman for APCO said Sunday afternoon. “There was a lot of damage associated with the storm, the damage was widespread and touched a lot of areas. Once we could get the resources in here, we could start getting customers back in service.

“Hopefully, this next storm system passing through the area on (Sunday) night, won’t set us back as much as the storms that followed the straight line wind storm that came through here on June 29,” Moye said.

Actually, the next storm packed a wallop — dropping heavy rain on the West Virginia Turnpike that covered the road and added to the challenge of driving on a day when there was heavy traffic on West Virginia’s interstate highways.

Because of the pending storm, APCO revised its projections that it would have 95 percent of its West Virginia customers back in service, to a temporary suspension of restoration efforts while the storm crossed the region.

“Unfortunately, severe thunderstorms moving through Appalachian’s West Virginia service area are causing power outage totals to rise. Out of concerns for workers safety, restoration efforts are being suspended in areas where dangerous weather is occurring,” according to an APCO press release issued at 5:51 p.m. “This marks the third major thunderstorm in the company’s West Virginia service area since the June 29 restoration began.”

A mid-Sunday afternoon lightning strike in Richlands, Va., temporarily knocked out power to the police station. However, all dispatch services were operational again by before 5 p.m., according to a dispatcher.

A state police dispatcher in Wytheville, Va., said traffic was heavy on I-77 and I-81, as the extended Independence Day holiday period came to a close.

The National Weather Service is forecasting rain through Wednesday next week, with temperatures moderating into the high 70s by Thursday.

 — Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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