Compiled by Staff
It's a good day to own a chainsaw or a generator in the Ohio Valley. As remnants of Hurricane Ike made their way to the area Sunday evening, it was high wind, not water residents and business owners are dealing with today.
Damage is widespread with power outages throughout the tri-state area. Most outages have been caused by trees toppling on power lines. In East Ohio, some towns may not see power restored for days.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Crews with the City of Wheeling Division of Operations were busy overnight and today cleaning up fallen trees and debris caused by the high winds that blew through the Upper Ohio Valley last night. Here, city employee Carl Kirkbride picks branches up in the North Park neighborhood of Wheeling this morning.
American Electric Power spokesperson Carmen Prati-Miller this morning said that 560,000 of its users were without power in Ohio and Ohio and Marshall counties in West Virginia. In the Upper Ohio Valley, 32,000 were without power.
"This is not going to be a quick fix," Prati-Miller said. "We have damage we have never experienced before."
Some customers will regain power today, but a full restoration is expected to take as long as six to eight days.
Shadyside is among the villages that is expected to be without power for several days.
"We will be working around the clock to restore power," she said.
AEP encourages anyone who sees a downed power line to call them immediately. All power lines should be considered live.
Allegheny Power reported today 4,692 customers in Weirton were without power as a result of the strong winds, while 398 customers in Follansbee were affected by downed power lines, and 361 Wellsburg customers lost electric power on Sunday.
Janice Lantz of Allegheny Power said work crews were coming to the Ohio Valley today from Maryland and Virginia.
"The Ohio Valley area was hit pretty hard Sunday and we still have close to 7,000 customers in Hancock and Brooke counties without power. But we are concentrating on restoring power as soon as possible," Lantz said.
The Brooke County Sheriff's Department said power lines were down early today on Mahan Lane to the Parkview area of Follansbee as well as Susquehana Road, Greens Run Road and Coss Lane in Wellsburg.
Ohio Department of Transportation Wintersville Garage Manager Tom Corey said his crews were busy all night, "cleaning up debris. We will be working on Ohio 213 at the six-mile marker post where a tree fell on the road."
According to Sam DeCapio, administrator at the West Virginia Division of Highways in Hancock County, "all roads are open but there is still debris on the highways. We will continue our efforts today to clean those roads."
And Craig Sperlazza of the WVDOH in Brooke County reported no road closings, "but a lot of debris on the highways."
"We have been out all night cleaning the roads and will continue that work today," Sperlazza added.
A Wheeling Fire Department engine sustained a broken windshield when a tree limb crashed through the window while the truck was responding to a call. According to Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms, a tree limb fell and hit the roof of Engine 4 a South Wheeling pumper truck.
"They were going to Mozart when a tree limb hit the windshield," Helms said. "No one one got hurt, but it broke the windshield and damaged the emergency lights."
Helms estimates the cost of the damage is $700 or greater. No other equipment was damaged during the wind storm.
"They made some temporary repairs to it last night, and put a temporary in use now," he said. "We will order a windshield."
While Helms did not have specific numbers on how many calls were made to the Wheeling Fire Department on Sunday night, he said there were many due to the intense weather situation.
"There were several calls related to alarm systems losing power and normal trees falling and what not," he said. "They were quite busy during the lengthy wind storm the wind was kicking up pretty good."
City workers in Wheeling have been working throughout the night and early today removing dozens of tree limbs and even large trees that were uprooted throughout the city. The Warwood section of the city appeared to have been hard hit with many reports of downed trees, including several that fell onto the city's jogging path.
Pat Herald, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said wind gusts ranging from 45-55 miles mph. In Wheeling, wind gusts managed to shatter a glass window on one of the upper floors on the Main Street side of the former Rite Aid building in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets. Wheeling firefighters temporarily closed Main Street as they worked to prevent additional glass from falling.
The wind also knocked over some barrels and signs in front of the Central Union Building on Market Street that were in place as officials with Savage Construction worked to repair a 6-inch water line leading to the building.
Thomas Hart, emergency management director for Marshall County, said the county was inundated with reports of downed trees and power lines.
''From McMechen to Cameron, we are dealing with cases of wind damage. We are reporting all downed power lines to AEP so that they can come to fix them,'' he said.
Employees of the Belmont County Engineer's Department had their hands full Sunday evening when reports were received of downed trees on county and state roadways. Ty Justice, Belmont County road foreman, said 12 employees were called out around 6:30 p.m. and worked until midnight. Trees were down in the areas of Belmont 214, Crescent Road, Barton Road, Willow Grove, North and South 26 in the Bethesda area, Belmont 101 and Belmont 102. Justice said Vineyard Road was down to one lane of traffic but was expected to have both lanes opened by daybreak.
Dave Schafer, Belmont County manager of the Ohio Department of Transportation Garage, Morristown, said crews were out from 6:30 p.m. Sunday and worked throughout the night clearing fallen trees from several state roads. He said most of the roads were cleared of debris shortly before daybreak. Some of the roads affected were Ohio 647, Ohio 147 and U.S. 250.
In St. Clairsville, some trees were down and limbs were over most of the streets. Employees were called out around 6 p.m. and worked until midnight. Dave Ivan, interim coordinator of the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency, said most of the reports received at the Emergency Operations Center pertained to downed trees and power lines as well as power outages. He said no damages were reported due to the strong winds.
In Monroe County, the Beallsville area was hard hit by downed lines, according to the sheriff's office. Noting ''the storm was nasty, a spokesperson at the Monroe County garage of ODOT said no roads were closed this morning, but Ohio 536 was closed during the night for about an hour because of fallen trees.
A spokesman at the ODOT garage in Harrison County said crews were cleaning up debris from roads today. Although all state routes in Harrison County were open today, U.S. 250 had been closed west of U.S. 22 and Ohio 799 had been partially closed because of a tree on a power line.
Knox Township in addition to the storm damages was the site of an accident in which a car went over a high wall during the night. The driver whose name was unavailable at press time was transported by medical helicopter to Mercy Hospital, Canton, according to a spokesperson for the Steubenville Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The power outages resulted in the closure of about a half dozen school districts in the valley today.