By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Hundreds of electric customers left in the dark Thursday by severe thunderstorms could expect to have their power restored by Sunday at the latest, power company officials said Friday.
A weather front carrying rain and high winds swept across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia early Thursday afternoon. The storms left toppled trees and downed power lines in their wake.
Officials with Appalachian Power expected to have electricity restored to most Mercer County residents by Sunday evening. Most Virginia customers in Tazewell, Buchanan and Giles counties were scheduled to see their service restored by Friday evening.
First responders in both Virginias spent most of Thursday clearing away trees and other debris. More than 2,200 Appalachian Power employees, contract line workers, damage assessors and tree crews were dedicated to restoration efforts, Appalachian Power officials said Friday.
Outages peaked Thursday at approximately 125,000 consumers without service, according to power company officials.
“We made significant progress — just one day into the effort, we’ve restored two thirds of the customers who lost power as a result of the storm,” said Appalachian Power representative Phil Moye.
By 4:30 p.m. Friday, a little more than 800 Mercer County customers were still without service
Counties in Virginia also saw a steady restoration of service. In Tazewell County, 295 customers were waiting for electricity. Another 857 customers still did not have electricity in Giles County.
Street departments and fire departments in Bluefield, Princeton and other municipalities had to clear away fallen trees left in the storm’s wake. A large tree blocked Courthouse Road for a time, and downed trees were also reported on Oakhurst Avenue and Cumberland Road in Bluefield. Local crews were busy for most of Thursday afternoon, but much of the work was finished by Friday morning.
“Everything’s back to normal,” said Fire Capt. Sean Wyatt of the Princeton Fire Department. “First thing in the morning, what was left (branches) was pushed off to the side.”
Much of the damage reported in Mercer County did not appear to be severe, said Tim Farley, director of the local Office of Emergency Services.
“What we were mostly running were downed power lines, trees, and sporadic flooding,” Farley said. “Most of the trees missed houses. I haven’t seen anything to tell me there’s been more damage.”