Some roads still closed, more than 3,000 still without power in Eastern Panhandle

October 31, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Opequon Creek overflows its banks Tuesday at the Van Metre Ford Bridge east of Martinsburg, W.Va.
Photo by Matthew Umstead

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Michael Goldberg was stationed at a downed power line along Sulphur Springs Road in Berkeley County to steer motorists out of harm’s way caused by Superstorm Sandy on Monday night when the storm’s damaging winds struck his family’s home.

Goldberg was volunteering with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Reserve when his 12-year-old daughter called and told him to come home because there was a tree in their home off Grade Road near Marlowe, W.Va.

The tree crashed through the roof about 10 p.m. and landed on his mother’s bed, but thankfully she wasn’t there because she might have been killed, Goldberg said.

“We’ve been here 13 years and I never thought it would snap,” said Goldberg of the large oak tree that he estimated was 40 to 60 feet tall and three to four feet in width.

Given the severity of the damage to the pre-fabricated home, Goldberg said he and his family were advised to leave the home and now are staying at a hotel.

Downed trees and power lines and resulting power outages were reported throughout Berkeley County as a result of the storm, but officials were relieved to find few other instances of significant damage as a result of wind gusts that topped 40 miles per hour.

Stephen S. Allen, director of the Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said the county was “very fortunate.”

More than 3,100 Potomac Edison customers in the Eastern Panhandle were without power as of 8:30 a.m Wednesday, but that figure was substantially less than more than 12,000 Tuesday morning, according to the FirstEnergy company’s web-based storm center.

High water and flooded roadways caused by the tropical storm’s abundant moisture, however, still pose a concern as a flood warning for Opequon Creek remained in effect through Wednesday night.

The creek, which left its banks and flooded Golf Course, Grapevine and Douglas Grove roads, was projected to crest at more than 13 feet Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 10 feet.

Residents along the creek who were encouraged by emergency officials to evacuate Monday night were allowed to return Tuesday evening if access to their homes could be made easily, Allen said.

If residents cannot safely access their property, Allen said they may go to the storm shelter, which was relocated Tuesday from Martinsburg High School to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church at 2109 Sulphur Springs Road in Inwood, W.Va.

The shelter was relocated due to the expected return of students to classes, albeit two hours late this morning.

Road closures

Officials announced Wednesday morning that road closures include the 400 block of Sulphur Springs Road and a portion of Douglas Grove Road at W.Va. 9.

High water areas are on McCubbins Hollow Road, Tuscarora Pike Bridge, Daisy Lane, Dry Run Road, 1500 block of Ruby Drive and in the vicinity of the water bridge on Allensville Road, officials said.

After closing schools Monday and Tuesday, Berkeley County Schools announced schools would reopen Wednesday after a two-hour delay with no morning pre-kindergarten. Jefferson County Schools also are operating on a two-hour delay Wednesday. Morgan County Schools are on a normal schedule.

“We came through this storm with minor issues,” said Superintendent Manny P. Arvon, noting the school system had some power outages at a few facilities, including Hedgesville High School and the bus garage.

Allen said only one person had showed up at the shelter at the high school, but because of the number of power outages and continuing high water concerns, Allen said officials decided to keep the shelter open.

McCubbins Hollow Road, Tuscarora Pike, Daisy Lane, Dry Run Road, Allensville Road and Golf Course Road also were impacted by high water, Allen said Tuesday.

The Oak Street bridge at East John Street in Martinsburg was closed due to flooding there and traffic signals were left inoperable on North Queen Street at the Moler Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue intersections.

Allen said downed trees or power lines affected travel on portions of Sulphur Spring Road, Nestle Quarry Road, Three Run Road and Greensburg Road.

In Martinsburg, City Manager Mark Baldwin reported very few problems other than “a handful” of downed trees.

One downed tree blocked the entrance to War Memorial Park at North Georgia Avenue.

“We’re a lot better off than I thought we we’re going to be,” Baldwin said.

Signs posted on the doors of the Martinsburg Mall at 800 Foxcroft Ave. indicated the shopping center was closed Tuesday due to the storm. The Walmart, which is attached to the mall, was open, however.

The Apple Harvest Drive McDonald's also was closed Tuesday. The storm prompted the suspension of early voting Tuesday in Morgan and Jefferson counties for the Nov. 6 election, but continued as scheduled in Berkeley County.

Phone problems fixed 

Frontier telephone customers with a 754 exchange in the Hedgseville, W.Va., were not able to dial out, Berkeley County emergency officials said Wednesay morning. The telephone outage was first announced Tuesday afternoon.


Service has since been restored, Frontier announced later Wednesday morning.

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