Power crews working to turn lights back on for thousands

FAIRMONT, W.Va. A number of poles damaged by heavy winds Monday led to about 32,000 power outages in what is expected to be an extremely rainy week in West Virginia.

“60 mile an hour plus winds, lots of rain in really a very widespread area,” First Energy Spokesperson Todd Meyers said. “Not only affecting our Mon Power customers, but also the panhandle customers that we have through Potomac Edison.”

That number was down closer to 8,000 early Tuesday afternoon, but Meyers said there remain some rural customers who could be without power into Wednesday.

“Lots and lots of spans of wire on the ground, a lot of tree damage, lots of trees coming into poles,” Meyers said. “So far, we’ve found more than a dozen broken poles (and) 60 spans of line on the ground.”

Crews from sister utility Ohio Edison are also coming into West Virginia to assist current line workers.

“We’re still assessing the damage, so we’re going to find more,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of the customers back on today, but there’s enough damage out there, unfortunately, and things we haven’t even seen that yet that I know we’re going to be into tomorrow in some areas. And, perhaps, in some of the more remote areas, even beyond (Wednesday).”

Meyers said the assistance is welcome, since Monday’s storms turned out to be a baptism by fire for 22 brand-new line workers.

“22 new grads in West Virginia — substation electricians and linemen — day one was yesterday,” he said.

Considering the added issues with downed power lines, Meyers said the process can sometimes be a little slower than normal.

“The very first thing that we do before we even get into working to get the lights back on is whenever there’s wires down, especially in a place that can have kids or people can come in contact with those lines, we have to scurry around and make sure those are de-energized.”

Close to 90 percent of the current outages are focused in Pendleton, Harrison, Jefferson, and Randolph counties.

Additionally stormy weather is predicted for parts of the state for much of this week.

A flash flood watch is in effect through midnight in parts of Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, and Tucker counties.

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