Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 6, 2012

Weather woes grow: New round of storms cuts power to many residents again

BLUEFIELD — The weather woes continue to mount for the region.

More downed trees. More power outages. Reports of minor flooding. Just as crews with Appalachian Power were beginning to make significant progress, another round of powerful thunderstorms rolled through the region Thursday with strong winds. And the number of remaining power outages in Mercer County jumped from just over 4,300 to more than 7,400 by Thursday evening. New power outages also were reported in the following counties: McDowell with 2,057; Tazewell, 854; Bland, 798 Monroe, 661; Giles, 3,582; and Buchanan with 2,340.

Rebecca and Paul Broyles of Princeton had just seen their power service restored when a large tree fell in their yard, knocking out electricity again.

“It’s been adventurous,” Rebecca Broyles said. “This is our third power outage. We were just newly established — Internet and everything — and now we are out again.”

The large tree took out power and television cables when it fell, Paul Broyles said.

“Yes, it was a big tree,” he said. “About 36 inches in diameter, and probably approaching about 200 years (old). It took out the power line, Internet cable and telephone. I heard the snap and the thud. This is incident number three, but we are so lucky. There are some people who haven’t seen power here since last Friday. They (the Appalachian Power crews) have done a tremendous job.”

Flooding was reported on Stafford Drive in Princeton Thursday, and emergency crews responded to several new reports of downed trees and power lines. There were also reports of pea-sized hail falling in and near Princeton at 12:15 p.m.

Capt. Chad Bailey of the Princeton Fire Department said that water covering parts of Stafford Drive soon drained off. The state Department of Highways put out warning signs until the road was clear.

High water has been a reoccurring problem for businesses and residences in the Stafford Drive area. Water has reached the Mercer County Commission of Aging’s lobby on previous occasions, but this time the water covering the Trent Street intersection on Stafford was not that much of a problem.

“We’re fine so far,” a receptionist at the commission said Thursday afternoon.

Bailey said he heard of power loses in and around the city, but he did not know about any major outages. The Princeton Health & Fitness Center lost power at approximately noon.

“The weird thing about this weather, it goes as quick as it comes,” Bailey said.

John Sidote, a spokesman for McDowell County 911, said additional downed trees and power lines were reported in McDowell County.

Phil Moye, a spokesman for Appalachian Power, said Concord University and the Brushfork  National Guard Armory are providing temporary housing to the hundreds of Appalachian Power crews who are working to restore power in the region.

Moye said many hotels and motels in the area are being rented by families without power, while visitors to the Greenbrier Classic are filling other accommodations.

“Hotels are full of people without electricity looking for places to stay, and the Greenbrier Classic has rooms tied up, so finding a room is a very difficult thing,” Moye said. “So we’ve begun reaching out to different entities that may have places. The people have been very responsive and very helpful. Concord University is providing 100 beds, and we are setting up cots for another 200 at the Brushfork Armory. That does a couple of things. It keeps hotel rooms open for people who don’t have power. And it provides a place to sleep for people who are coming in to help with the restoration efforts.”

Moye said Appalachian Power is still hoping to have electricity restored to all impacted families by the weekend.

“Overall we still expect to be complete, or essentially complete, by late Sunday,” Moye said. “There may be some more isolated cases where there may be new damage.”

Moye said he was unfamiliar with the term ‘derecho’ until learning that was the type of storm that struck the region.

“Derecho is a new word in my vocabulary, and I can tell you it is not my favorite word,” Moye said.

“The only other thing I can recall that causes so much widespread damage over such a wide area is a hurricane. This derecho is sort of a new animal as far as I’m concerned, but it certainly did pack the punch of a hurricane.”

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