HUNTINGTON — As thousands entered the weekend without electricity following recent snow and ice storms, some have been without power since the first storm Feb. 11 and are concerned with growing costs and lack of communication.
Tim Farren, who lives on Edgewood Road in Huntington, said when his power went out, he, his wife and his 2-year-old son booked a room in a Delta hotel downtown, thinking they would only be there for a few days.
Farren said the cost of staying at the hotel is adding up, but poor communication almost cost his family the room.
“I actually received an email at one point stating the power was restored,” he said. “We almost checked out. We would have lost our room had we not went to check first.”
Farren was referring to a notice he received Feb. 11 stating the power had been restored. Other local residents have reported similar issues about being notified of restored power while it is still out, and Farren said he was told there was a problem with the Appalachian Power system that caused the false notifications.
Appalachian Power has released information regarding how they determine which areas affected by power outages are restored first.
In multiple news releases, the power company stated issues that affect emergency services are addressed first, followed by outages affecting significant numbers of people. Then smaller groups affected by outages are addressed, and finally, individual cases.
Farren said he understands where he lives isn’t overly populated, but trying to find information has been a struggle as restoration estimates have changed as more storms arrived in the area.
Another Huntington resident, Kassie Graham, lives on Clark Graham Road and said she has been blocked in since Feb. 11 due to fallen trees.
Graham said she and her husband are lucky enough to have owned a generator before the storms to power their necessities, but she has been unable to find out when the roads will be cleared and power will be restored.
Both Graham and Farren have now received notices from Appalachian Power that electricity is expected to be turned back on by Tuesday, Feb. 23, but Graham said she called Appalachian Power as soon as the lights went out to tell them about the potentially dangerous situation.
“We called and told (Appalachian Power employees) immediately the pole was damaged, trees were down on top of lines blocking us in, lines (are) all over the road and how bad everything is all over the place,” Graham said. “I wasn’t really asking about restoration times. I was just curious as to when they would ever come out here to clean it up, and they mainly said, ‘Crews are in your area; (there is) no estimated time of restoration.’”
Having to climb through fallen trees, Graham said her father has been able to pick her up every few days to go get more gasoline for her generator, but getting gas so often is not cheap and some places in the area began running out.
There have also been concerns regarding reimbursement for costs accumulated due to the storm.
Graham said she had seen a Facebook post saying American Electric Power, which is the parent company of Appalachian Power, would help reimburse people for spoiled food, but the AEP website states customers should check with insurance agencies because homeowners’ and renters’ insurance can sometimes cover those costs.
Farren said he hopes AEP assists those who are being financially impacted by the situation by offering discounts, because he, like others in the area, may have trouble due to unexpected costs.
He also said people could probably use help from assistance programs to offset extra spending due to the weather.
“I want to know if there are any assistance programs to help people who are in a similar situation,” Farren said. “I feel AEP should at least provide discounts on service.”
Farren also said he understands employees are working hard through dangerous conditions to restore power to thousands of people, and he is thankful for what they do.