CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It could be Friday before Appalachian Power Company has service restored to thousands of customers who lost service when heavy storms moved through areas of central and southern West Virginia Tuesday night.
At midday Wednesday there remained nearly 37,000 customers without service in a dozen West Virginia counties. The restoration efforts could be hindered by additional storms in the forecast for Wednesday evening.
The National Weather Service has placed 29 of the state’s 55 counties under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m. Wednesday and 15 additional counties under a tornado watch also set to expire at 9 p.m.
An Appalachian Power Company spokesperson said Tuesday’s storm packed a more powerful punch than expected.
“This is really the first significant weather event we’ve had for a while,” said Appalachian Power Director of Communications Jeri Matheney. “It was more organized than we expected and it affected more people. I can’t say we knew we were going to have this many outages.”
The company will use line repair crews from other parts of their service territory where the storm wasn’t as destructive. They also pulled crews off tree trimming duty along rights of way in a newly launched six-year project to help clear away trees from the storm.
“We’re trying to get a good feel for how long it’s going to take, but we can’t really say just how long it’s going to take to get power back,” said Matheney. “I’m sure there are going to be customers who are still out at the end of today.”
The company was concerned with additional stormy weather in the forecast for Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Cabell and Wayne counties were the hardest hit areas. Wednesday morning there were 25 percent of Cabell County customers without service, approximately 14,500 customers. A third of Wayne County customers were without service.
Huntington also had road problems, reporting more than 40 roads, streets blocked by fallen trees and power lines.
The counties under the Wednesday storm watch include:
Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Harrison, Kanawha, Lewis, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming.
Those under the tornado watch include:
Berkeley, Brooke, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Marion, Marshall, Mineral, Monongalia, Morgan, Ohio, Preston, Tucker and Wetzel.