Thousands of West Virginia residents may be facing several days with no electrical service must like they did when the derecho moved through the Mountain State four months ago.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin tells MetroNews Appalachian Power Company has 50 transmission lines, 30 substations and 90 circuits damaged from Hurricane Sandy’s wind, rain and snow and the company can’t get a read on the exact damage to those main lines until helicopter patrols can check them out.
“Obviously with the weather conditions, they’ve got helicopters lined up, but they won’t be able to fly until Thursday,” Tomblin said.
After that review the governor says Appalachian Power can move forward with repairs.
“They tell me that if it’s not the (transmission) towers they can fix it fairly quickly, but if it’s the towers it could be longer,” he said.
Appalachian Power reported 140,000 customers without service at 5pm Tuesday. FirstEnergy, the parent company of Mon Power and Potomac Edison, reported 109,000 customers without service in the Mountain State.
Both Appalachian Power and Mon Power had transmission tower problems following the June 29th derecho and some of their customers were without power for two weeks. A Mon Power spokesperson said Tuesday afternoon the company hoped to have all service restored by the middle of next week, Appalachian Power’s Phil Moye would not put a time frame on it.
“At a time when your outage numbers are still going up and when you still have the type of weather that’s causing the outages in the area, it’s so premature you really can’t make a good determination of when you’ll have power back,” Moye said.
Gov. Tomblin says shelters are being established and if the power outages continue he anticipates they will be used by residents just like they were following the derecho.
“It’s just the opposite of what we faced in July with 100 degree temperatures. We were trying to keep people cool and now we have the same thing trying to keep people warm,” the governor said.
The state announced the openings of 26 shelters Tuesday evening. Tomblin says another 50 could be added to the list.
You can see a list of the shelters at http://www.governor.wv.gov/pages/shelters.aspx
The state was approved by President Barack Obama Tuesday to receive some immediate help from FEMA but many of the needed generators are going to the New York-New Jersey area where Sandy hit first. The governor says he’s been stressing the need in West Virginia to FEMA.
“We’re a little bit different—they’re not facing the cold temperatures and snow that we are. It’s important that they put us at the top,” Tomblin said.