WHEELING - Five days after heavy winds ravaged the Ohio Valley and left thousands without power, local officials with American Electric Power have assessed the overall scope of the damage.
According to AEP spokeswoman Carmen Prati-Miller, Friday's storm covered more than 700 miles in 10 hours, impacting residents in 10 states. She said 4 million people were without power in the wake of the storm, and locally crews have been working around-the-clock to restore electricity in eastern Ohio and the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.
"The Ohio Valley is doing well, with just under 6,400 remaining without power from last Friday," Prati-Miller said.
Photo by Casey Junkins
This house along East Main Street in St. Clairsville was struck by a nearby tree that collapsed as severe storms swept across the Upper Ohio Valley on Friday.
There are more than 4,300 people working 16-hour shifts to restore power, Prati-Miller said. Additionally, there are hundreds more behind the scenes organizing where crews will go next. Prati-Miller said because of the nature of the storm, the current efforts are considered rebuilding.
"When I say we are no longer in restoration mode, it is more of a rebuilding effort because of how catastrophic it was," she said. "Once we assessed the damage, we found out just how bad it was."
Prati-Miller said crews focus attention on areas of priority immediately after a storm. She said once hazards, which can include fires or blown transformers, are taken care of, crews then move on to care facilities, hospitals and any place that provides life-sustaining services.
"Those are high priority because of the nature of those places," she said.
And if schools were in session, they also would be made a priority, Prati-Miller said. Once those areas are addressed, crews then move to areas with the largest number of outages and work their way from there. She said the entire process is carefully assessed and planned in an effort to address concerns as quickly as possible.
"You can't take a shotgun approach," she said. "You first need to understand what you're dealing with."
Prati-Miller said crews were preparing for additional storms, which were expected to hit the area Tuesday night. However, she said even extensive planning can't help most situations.
"We can't really react to things until they happen, and that is the problem in these situations," she said.
In a related matter, the Proctor Post Office on W.Va. 2 was damaged by severe weather Friday. Its operations have been suspended and relocated to the Moundsville Post Office, 1214 Third St. Proctor post box customers can pick up their mail at the Mounds-ville facility.