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More heat for thousands in W.Va. without power

Jul. 06, 2012 @ 02:50 PM

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Some 200,000 West Virginians sat without power Friday facing an oppressively hot weekend, a week after violent storms knocked more than three times that many people off the grid.

Heat advisories are in place through Saturday for the Eastern Panhandle and the western half of the state, from the Northern Panhandle to the southern coalfields. The National Weather Service said some areas could get severe thunderstorms over the weekend, too.

Ninety-degree heat and storms all week have slowed efforts to restore electricity since the powerful storm that tore across the state June 29 storm and knocked more than 680,000 households off the grid.

Still without service Friday afternoon were more than 134,000 Appalachian Power customers and some 67,000 Mon Power customers. Nearly 41,000 of those still awaiting electricity were in Kanawha County, the state's most populous.

Power popped on early Friday morning at Robin Workman's home in Cabin Creek, but with the weekend forecast, she was not hopeful it would stay on. She's keeping the generator and gas cans handy just in case.

"My sister-in-law got power the other night and then lost it again. They didn't even have it 24 hours," she said, "so no, I'm not that confident."

Workman lives with her husband, three sons, daughter-in-law and grandson, but since the power failed, they've all moved into a single room in her mother-in-law's home next door. They connected fans to the generator, laid mattresses on the family room floor and tried to stay comfortable.

Workman's main concern was the same one she'd had all week: ice. She needed it to keep her mother-in-law's insulin chilled, and she wanted it to keep cold drinks on hand for power crews in the area.

"If the guys are out here working," she said, "at least we can say, 'Hey, here's something cold to drink.'"

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was traveling several counties Friday afternoon to visit with emergency management officials, while hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers provided shelter, food and help to cooling centers. Nearly 20 emergency vehicles and four mobile kitchens were delivering food and water in the affected areas, the Red Cross said.

Meanwhile, the state 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. The deadline is Monday, but the DHHR says that could be extended with federal government approval.

Frontier Communications was part of the restoration effort, too, bringing in 40 out-of-state workers to help restore telecommunications services.

It said 25 of its 230 central offices in the state are operating on generators.