WHEELING - Power in Belmont and Ohio counties still is expected to be restored by 6 p.m. today, according to American Electric Power.
Late Friday, AEP-Ohio estimated 117 people in Belmont County still were without power; 255 in Marshall County; and 903 in Ohio County. Jefferson County's power was expected to be restored by late last night.
Since the June 29 storm that knocked out power to 600,000 people each in Ohio and West Virginia, a series of smaller storms the past few days have set back electrical workers trying to repair damaged lines and utility poles. The National Weather Service forecasted for tonight a "slight risk" of a severe thunder storm with damaging winds.
Utility crews from Haynes Electric Utility Corp. of Asheville, N.C., work on installing a new power transformer in Elkton, Va.
While people are still waiting for their power to be restored, they also are continuing to suffer in the heat. Temperatures today are forecasted to reach 100 degrees, causing the NWS to issue an excessive heat warning for the region. This means a prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity can create "a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely."
In the state of Ohio, the heat has been blamed for the deaths of three people who were found alone in their homes. A man in his 70s was found dead Monday in the city of Newark, about 40 miles east of Columbus, and two women - one in her late 60s, the other in her 80s - were found Tuesday in rural parts of the county.
All three were suffering from heart disease, but died from stress caused by high temperatures in their houses. Temperatures inside were stifling, recorded in the 90s in two cases, with windows shut and no ventilation. The houses lacked electricity because of the recent power outages. Customers of AEP-Ohio in the Newark area have been among the last to have their power restored.
Four utility workers have been hospitalized for heat exhaustion, according to AEP-Ohio. The job is getting harder and more dangerous as workers make their way into areas of rough, wooded terrain, AEP-Ohio spokeswoman Terri Flora said.
About 82,000 customers across Ohio were still without power Friday, mostly in central and southwest Ohio. AEP said the recent storms have far surpassed the damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike four years ago. It said it was on schedule to have power restored by midnight Saturday to 95 percent of the 660,000 customers affected by the storms.
Meanwhile, across West Virginia, more than 134,000 Appalachian Power customers and some 67,000 Mon Power customers were still without power Friday. Nearly 41,000 of those still awaiting electricity were in Kanawha County.
Also, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said it would offer replacement benefits to food stamp users who lost food during the outages. Recipients can apply for replacement benefits through local DHHR offices.