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AEP: ‘A Lot of Progress’ Made in Restoring Power

Photo by Shelley Hanson - Wheeling Park employee Eric Wagner uses a chainsaw Thursday to cut through a downed tree on the park’s miniature golf course.

WHEELING — AEP Appalachian Power spokeswoman Joelle Moray said Thursday that power restoration work is progressing following the pair of derechos that came through the area earlier this week, but the company does not have estimated restoration times for those still without power in the Wheeling area.

People looking to cool off in Thursday’s sweltering weather got one more outlet to do that. Wheeling Park’s swimming pool reopened Thursday, even as damage cleanup continued throughout the park.

Moray said AEP was feeling good about what crews have been able to accomplish since they got to work Tuesday morning.

“It’s going so well,” she said. “A lot of good progress is being made.”

According to AEP’s power outage map, as of 6:45 p.m. Thursday, there were 4,036 customers without power — down from about 16,000.

Tuesday morning’s storm — a double derecho featuring winds gusts of 70 mph — ripped through the region causing property and tree damage and leaving thousands without power across the Ohio Valley.

Moray added there are “tons of issues” because of the “significant weather event.” But that’s not uncommon following a severe storm, she noted.

“It’s really bad everywhere. You don’t know until you get into the field and look at it. You have to get out there and see what you’re dealing with,” she said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the AEP outage map had added estimated restoration times for several neighborhoods that were still without power, from anywhere Thursday evening to this evening. In other neighborhoods, the map indicated that crews were still assessing conditions.

“We have upwards of 50 crews out there working to restore power as quickly as possible,” she said.

Rod Haley, executive vice president for the Wheeling Park Commission, said Thursday that power was restored to the park Wednesday night. The swimming pool, golf course and White Palace all have reopened for business.

However, since hundreds of uprooted and damaged trees still needed to be removed, the area of the park where the lake, playground and shelters are located will remain closed temporarily.

“The team has been doing a great job. We’ve had a lot of good support,” Haley said, adding one outside tree removal company was hired to help park workers. The park has also received support from the Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Agency and the West Virginia Division of Highways.

He noted members of the West Virginia National Guard were expected to help soon, too. He estimated it would take at least a couple weeks for the park to be totally cleaned up from the storm.

In addition to the numerous trees damaged, sections of fencing were downed. No damage occurred to the park’s buildings. One picnic shelter’s roof was damaged from a branch going through it, he added.

Haley said the park’s FunFest Friday event, which features music, food and more for families, is still scheduled to occur this evening from 6-9 p.m. Tonight’s band will be the Misfits, he said.

While the power was out, Haley noted the park was able to keep the swimming pool’s water clean by using generators to run its pump and chlorinator. The park’s food had to be temporarily moved off-site to Oglebay Park’s facilities during the outage.

The Appalachian Power Facebook page estimates power in Ohio and Marshall Counties could be restored by 10 p.m. today, but notes “there may be isolated instances” in which it takes longer.”

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