HUNTINGTON — Appalachian Power is continuing major storm restoration efforts, using more than 3,200 workers, helicopters and drones to make repairs caused by one of the largest ice events to hit West Virginia in at least a decade.
An estimated 550 broken poles need to be replaced and roughly 2,400 spans of wire will need put back up as a result of the Feb. 11 and Feb. 15 ice storms, said Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye in a news release.
About 50,000 West Virginia customers remain without power as of 5 p.m. Friday, including 17,016 customers in Cabell County, one of the hardest hit. Cabell’s outage numbers stood at more than 20,000 as of Thursday evening after peaking at more than 32,000 Tuesday evening.
In Wayne, 14,520 customers remain without power; in Putnam, 5,866; in Lincoln, 4,817; in Jackson, 2,798; and in Mason, 2,642. In Mercer, Logan and Mingo counties, most customers without power were expected to have service restored by 10 p.m. Friday.
In the Milton area of Cabell County, Lincoln, Mason and Jackson counties, most customers without power should have service restored by 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22. In Wayne and the remainder of Cabell County, most customers without power should have service restored by 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Moye said thousands of customers will have service restored each day as work is ongoing. Crews are focusing on outages that affect large numbers of customers.
Anyone using a portable or RV generator should place it in a cool, dry, well ventilated, outdoor location, and should not plug the generator into a circuit box, Moye said. Portable generators “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public.
Customers affected by the power outage, including those who must leave their homes, also are asked to turn off all lights and appliances — including heating or air conditioning systems — to prevent circuit overload situations as power is restored to homes. One light can be left on, so customers will know when power is restored.
Several state agencies have teamed up on emergency response efforts, including the West Virginia State Police, National Guard, Division of Highways and Department of Environmental Resources, to help clear roads, help utility crews reach downed power lines and perform wellness checks on residents.
As of Friday morning, 13 welfare checks were performed by the National Guard, while teams continued clearing impassable roads. So far, there have been no issues with residents who the teams have contacted.
“The last few weeks have been tough, but that’s just how West Virginians are made. We’re made to be tough and pull together to help,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a news release Friday. “I’m proud of our first responders who jumped in to help, and I’m proud of all the West Virginians who help their neighbors, not just today, but every day.”
As of noon Friday, Kentucky Power listed 11,500 Boyd County customers currently without power, as well as 3,929 in Carter County, 1,590 in Greenup County and 5,197 in Lawrence County.
AEP Ohio issued restoration times for Ohio customers without power Thursday.
Those in Ironton, Kitts Hill, South Point, Pedro, Franklin Furnace and Coal Grove are expected to be brought back online by noon Sunday, Feb. 21, while those in Chesapeake, Proctorville, Crown City and other portions of South Point are estimated to be reconnected by 6 p.m. Sunday.
Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative reported an additional 1,400 members had their service restored Friday. In Lawrence County, 3,713 of 5,659 members are without service. In Gallia County, 572 remain without service.
More than 100 workers were in the field Friday working 16-hour shifts, many of them without electric service in their own homes or away from their families, BREC shared in a web update.