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Nearly 3 days after storms, more than 17,000 still without power in Eastern Panhandle

July 02, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Downed wires and uprooted trees make the scene after a Friday night storm swept thru Martinsburg.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Hotels and restaurants remained busy Monday as many residents of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle could be without power until late this week because three large towers that hold major transmission lines were knocked down during Friday night’s storm, officials said.

As of 3:07 p.m. Monday, more than 17,000 customers were still without power in the Eastern Panhandle.

While FirstEnergy officials believe power will be restored to the bulk of its Maryland customers by Wednesday, restoring power to West Virginia customers is expected to take longer because the damage was “much more severe, much more significant,” First Energy spokesman Scott Surgeoner said.

Washington County still had 53 Potomac Edison customers without power as of 3:07 p.m. Monday, according to FirstEnergy’s website.

Surgeoner said power is expected to be restored to affected Washington County customers by sometime Monday.

Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis said Washington County residents without power can go to Valley Mall or other public facilities such as fire stations to get cool. As of Sunday afternoon, county emergency services personnel had not received requests from anyone needing shelter, Lewis said.

In Frederick County, Md., 2,191 customers were still without power as of 3:07 p.m. Monday, according to FirstEnergy’s website.

Cooling stations have been set up in the Eastern Panhandle and in Frederick County, Md., officials said.

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Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) Waterworks was still having power issues Sunday afternoon, but a power company crew was working to remedy the situation, said Barb Miller, Jefferson County’s director for Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The county’s other drinking water treatment plants were doing OK, using generators if necessary, she said.

The power outage also is affecting many residents with private wells and no electricity to pump water, Miller said.

Potomac Edison said on its website that beginning at 2 p.m. Monday and continuing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., while power is being restored, water would be available at the Lowe's store at 14725 Apple Harvest Drive in Martinsburg.

According to a voicemail received at noon Sunday, Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin said the city’s wastewater treatment plant was operating on a generator and backup power. He added that people can drop off debris at the public works department on Boston Street in Martinsburg and that burning is not allowed in city limits.

West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Menis Ketchum ordered all courts in the state closed Monday due to the storm and widespread power outages affecting every county in the state, according to a news release from his office.

Berkeley County Public Schools’ website states summer school will be held.

The Hagerstown area had a heat index of 100 degrees shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, according to local weather observer Greg Keefer’s website at http://i4weather.net.

Potomac Edison’s Maryland customers who are without power can receive, for free, up to 2 gallons of bottled water and one bag of ice at Martin’s Food Markets in Washington County, according to FirstEnergy’s website and a manager at the Martin’s on Wesel Boulevard. FirstEnergy operates as Potomac Edison in Maryland and as Mon Power in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

Cooling centers will be open at the Frederick Community Action Agency at 100 S. Market St., and at the William Talley Recreation Center on 121 N. Bentz St. until 5 p.m., according to an email from the City of Frederick.

Affected Potomac Edison customers can receive, for free, one bag of ice and two gallons of water at Giant Eagle Stores at 1305 West 7th St. and 1275 W. Patrick St., according to the email.

According to FirstEnergy’s website at 3:07 p.m. Monday, 8,578 customers were without power in Berkeley County; 6,772 customers in Jefferson County were without power; and 1,983 customers in Morgan County were without power.

The Jefferson County (W.Va.) Health Department set up a cooling shelter at Washington High School for residents to get relief from the heat and to plug in medical-assistance devices, according to a news release from the health department and the county’s emergency management director.

Pets could be brought to Washington High School, but residents should bring their cats’ or dogs’ food, bowls, cages and medications, and expect to stay with them, Miller said. The cooling station also has bottled water, she said.

The American Red Cross and Mon Power were working on a plan to give out ice and water in the area Monday, similar to how FirstEnergy partnered with grocery stores in nearby counties, Miller said.

As of Monday afternoon, the following cooling stations were available in Jefferson County, according to the county's Homeland Security office:

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