BUCKHANNON — About 800 customers remained without power in Upshur County Thursday afternoon, following a line of thunderstorms that swept through the area Wednesday morning.
Todd Meyers, spokesperson for Mon Power, said that the company’s weather forecasters were warning of a very large and powerful cold front that would push through.
“They let us know in advance that it was going to be problematic,” he said.
Mon Power began planning for outages across its service area that covers not only West Virginia, but Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Everyone had to stay in place and be prepared with the crews they had, waiting to see what was going to happen,” he said.
“Early Wednesday morning, the first thunderstorm started coming out in the Parkersburg area,” he added. “It did some damage.”
The storms that caused damage in Upshur County came later in the morning — about 10 a.m., according to Meyers.
“They were moving so quickly by the time it was noon or 1 p.m. they were out of West Virginia and into Virginia,” he said.
At the height of the outages, Meyers said there was about 48,000 customers without power across the Mountain State.
“We have restored power by now to about 36,000 customers,” he said.
In Upshur County, there were about 3,000 people without power at the peak and that was down to about 863 Thursday afternoon.
Superintendent Roy Wager said three schools lost power Wednesday morning: Rock Cave, French Creek and Union Elementary.
Wager also said he was worried about power lines being down and buses having difficulty getting students home at dark.
The decision was made to dismiss early at 1:30 p.m. Upshur County Schools had about 1,400 minutes of extra accrued time as of Tuesday’s board meeting, so those hours won’t need to be made up, according to Wager.
Meyers said the outages left included French Creek at 311 customers, Buckhannon at 155 customers, Rock Cave at 146 customers, Selbyville at 48 customers, Tallmansville at 48 customers, Volga at 64 customers, and some other pockets throughout the county.
Most of the outages remained in the area of the West Virginia Wildlife Center.
“The fast and hard straightline winds took down a lot of very large off right-of-way trees,” he said.
“We still have about three broken poles we need to set. We have workers out there working to set poles now. Most of the damage was done by big trees that fell on power lines.”
Meyers said the majority of the 863 customers should be restored by Friday evening.
Additional crews have been brought in from Mon Power and other contracted line crews from surrounding states.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “Some of it is off-road. You can’t just pull a bucket truck up to some of this stuff. They are doing climbing work. It’s not any one fix, so there’s a lot of widespread damage.”
Crews are working to fix the problems that will restore the largest number of customers first and then work on the smaller pockets of customers, he added.
Meyers cautioned people to steer clear of downed wires and also to not attempt to remove trees that are laying on power lines themselves.
“Assume they are energized and they can be dangerous for yourself,” he said.
Call 1-888-LIGHTSS or the local 911 center to report downed power lines.
“Don’t try to clear them yourself,” he said. “Leave that to us.”