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Power outage leaves Berkeley Co. residents cold

January 19, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Tree limbs were blamed for disrupting electric power in Berkeley County Wednesday on what might have been one of the coldest and windiest nights of the new year.

More than 1,200 Allegheny Power customers were left without electric power after trees disrupted service when they came into contact with high-voltage electric wires earlier in the day, an Allegheny Power spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The outages occurred about 1 p.m. along the company's Dry Run Road circuit, Allegheny Power spokeswoman Hollie Plevyak said later Wednesday.

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Plevyak said problems with the power lines were widespread, but power was not expected to have been fully restored until later Wednesday. The company had not received any reports of downed electric poles, she said.

"The Martinsburg service center is manned and they've got crews out," Plevyak said. "It's a priority."

Plevyak estimated the company had received about 600 calls from customers by about 7:30 p.m.

Harlan Run resident Miriam Travers said her neighborhood had been without power since Wednesday at noon, and many residents had abandoned their homes to stay somewhere warm.

"Everything is shut down completely," said Travers, adding she heard that power also was out in Laurel Ridge and Federal Hill.

"It's pitch black," she said, adding she also would leave her house to stay with friends.

Plevyak said reports also were received that power had been disrupted in the Johnstown area west of Hedgesville, W.Va.

Brian Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said Wednesday was windy.

High winds started blowing throughout the region early Wednesday, averaging about 30 mph and gusting as high as 40 mph, Guyer said.

Guyer said the winds were accompanied by temperatures in the mid 40s, which dipped about 10 degrees lower by nightfall, and about a half-inch of rain. That's a combination capable of resulting in power outages if fallen trees and tree limbs touch electric wires, Guyer said.

"Any winds over 40 miles per hour would be able to knock a tree over if the ground is saturated," Guyer said.

Allegheny Power asks customers to plan ahead in the event of power outages and take precautions, Plevyak said.

The company recommends customers keep battery-powered radios and flashlights on hand, as well as emergency kits and a supply of nonperishable foods in the event of storms and power disruptions, Plevyak said. Customers also are advised to keep their prescriptions filled, and avoid downed power lines.

"Always assume fallen wires are energized and keep clear," Plevyak said.

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