AEP Spokeswoman: ‘Double Derecho’ The Cause Of Damage, Power Outage
A “double derecho” tore through Wheeling overnight, according to an AEP spokeswoman, leaving more than 16,000 customers without power and with no timetable for power restoration.
AEP spokeswoman Joelle Moray said her company’s meteoroligists said two derechos — widespread, long-lived wind storms associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms — came through the area in rapid succession. Southern West Virginia dealt with a derecho in the summer of 2012 that caused widespread damage and left many without power for days.
Wheeling got two of those back to back.
“The only word I can use for that is ‘unprecedented,'” Moray said.
Moray said AEP will call in crews from out of the area to help with power restoration, though no firm timetable could be offered as of Tuesday afternoon. She estimated that 300 to 500 people making up 100 to 120 crews will be out, including tree trimmers and other forestry employees.
Essential services like hospitals, emergency services and water pumping stations will go back online first, Moray said. AEP assessors will be out inspecting areas to decide which areas are safe enough to restore power. Larger outage areas likely will be restored first.
Moray said that, while she understands people’s curiosity with the storm damage, extreme caution must be taken.
“People should assume that everything that is down is energized, that there could be a live power line in a downed tree limb,” she said.
City of Wheeling Operations Superintendent Steve Johnston said that the worst of the damage seems to be in a diagonal line from the area near Greenwood Cemetery in to Springdale. Wheeling Park also is dealing with numerous downed trees and limbs.
Crews were still assessing damage, Johnston said, coordinating efforts with the Wheeling Police Department and utility companies.
“We’re trying to clear the streets for emergency vehicles, obviously,” he said. “We’re even trying to do that for sanitation so people can have their trash picked up. But we’re working with the other departments and working with the National Weather Service to find out when the weather may turn on us again.”
Johnston said city crews also were making sure culverts were cleared to avoid localized flooding.
Crews with the City of Wheeling have assessed areas of Wheeling impacted by last night’s storm and are responding to those areas as quickly as possible, city spokeswoman Michele Rejonis said.
City officials are asking for the public’s patience, as the damage is widespread. More than 16,000 Appalachian Power customers remain without electricity Tuesday morning after storms tore through the area, uprooting trees, sending tree limbs crashing across neighborhood streets and downing power lines.
In some cases, Rejonis said city crews must wait for the power company to respond first to be able to access some areas impacted. Calling the operations department is not necessary. Crews are working diligently to correct the situations that can be addressed immediately, she said, and will respond to other areas when it is safe to do so.
Wheeling city offices and Centre Market are both closed today due to the storms.