PROCTOR - As the lights gradually come back on from house to house throughout the eastern United States, Proctor residents Ady and Edwin Wright still wait in the dark 11 days after the June 29 storm ripped across the area.
"It's like camping without the fun," Ady Wright said Tuesday.
The Wrights have been surviving on their 170-acre property without running water, air conditioning or reliable phone service for more than a week. They are one of 14 residents still coping without electricity in a rural area along St. Joseph's Baker Hill road in Wetzel County during the summer's heatwave.
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Ady and Edwin Wright stand in front of a tree that fell on their property during the June 29 storm. The Wrights have been without power for the past 11 days.
"The hot weather has made it real bad. It's 10 degrees hotter upstairs, we had 88 degrees inside downstairs and 98 degrees upstairs at 10 o'clock in the evening," Edwin Wright said. "We slept upstairs, but not well."
Enduring the heat was especially dangerous for Edwin Wright, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last November and has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past six months. The chemotherapy treatment causes him to perspire excessively - making it difficult to do his daily work outside in the extremely high temperatures that have passed 100 degrees at times in the past 11 days.
"We haven't run the air at all since this happened," Ady Wright said. "Of course, you would have to run the air and not the freezer. The freezer is more important. The food is number one."
The Wrights are relying on a small generator to run their refrigerator and freezer, since keeping their food from spoiling is their main priority during the outage. However, the generator must be turned off at night for safety reasons, making it difficult to maintain freezer temperatures cold enough to keep food fresh. Edwin Wright said the generator can only handle a few power sources at a time, so they have to turn off the fridge to listen to the answering machine or to go online to check email and power outage updates.
Residents of rural areas affected by the massive power outage have even more complicated problems than their urban counterparts experienced. Edwin Wright said he has to refill the gasoline for the generator twice a day and estimates that their small generator uses five gallons of gas a day. To buy more gas, he drives to town 13 miles in either direction of their home. In addition, their telephone service has been sporadic - making if difficult to contact the power companies to report the outage or just to call friends for help.
"The phone works for a few hours, then it goes out again and, of course, cell phones don't work here," Ady Wright said. "I have been trying to talk to somebody, but you either just get a recording and if you're persistent, you get a person, but they don't really know."
The Wrights usually depend on a well with an electric pump for their running water, but now they must bring in water in buckets from elsewhere in order to hydrate the numerous edible plants they grow on their property.
"The first few days, I could get water from the streams for flushing the toilet. There wasn't any flow in the streams, but I could find a puddle. Now there is nothing," Edwin Wright said. "Every predicted rainstorm went one way or another."
The Wrights' residence receives electricity from Mon Power, a First Energy company that serves customers in many parts of West Virginia. A press release from FirstEnergy on Tuesday stated that employees, contractors and outside utility crew members continue to restore power to the 12,600 Mon Power customers in West Virginia. The Mon Power website showed that there are still 416 homes without power in Wetzel County. It is estimated that customers in Wetzel County will have their power restored by midnight today.
"It seems like everything takes electricity right now, but the biggest problem is water and excessive heat," she said. "If every day was like today, it wouldn't be so bad, but it was super hot. You really feel it."