PARKERSBURG - Around 30 percent of Wood County residents and 38 percent of Washington County residents were still without electricity Tuesday, as temperatures continued to climb into the mid-90s.
Most residents living in the outer edges of Belpre were still without electricity.
Jeff Rennie, spokesman for AEP, said 90 percent of customers in the Belpre/Marietta area would have power restored by midnight Friday. The remaining 10 percent may have to wait a few more days.
Photo by Natalee Seely
Belpre residents without power relax at the bingo hall cooling station on Washington Boulevard.
There were around 11,000 customers without power in the Belpre/Marietta area Tuesday, down from 28,700 at the height of the storm, said Rennie.
"We have additional crews here from out of state, working 16-hour shifts," he said. "They have a staging area set up at Washington County Fairgrounds, where the crews can rest and eat before going back out into the heat to work. There were a tremendous number of large trees blown over on our lines and utility poles that just snapped. Replacing all of these is very time-consuming work."
In Wood County, 30 percent of Monongahela Power customers were without electricity Tuesday, but many businesses and restaurants were open. In Parkersburg, 7,000 people had no electricity, with another 850 in Vienna.
According to Mon Power officials, Williamstown had 1,259 residents without electricity Tuesday, although Williamstown officials said the number was much lower.
James R. Haney, a regional president of Monongahela Power, said Thursday may be the earliest that most of Parkersburg will have power restored. Others may have to wait until the weekend.
"We're doing everything we can to get service restored," Haney said.
Customers have been patient, he said.
The wind from the storm blew over several towers carrying the transmission lines between Parkersburg and Clarksburg, Haney said. Those lines have to be repaired first so power is available for the local distributions network, he said.
The company uses a helicopter to search for problems. Crews are then dispatched to the problem site, which can be problematic because while the terrain is picturesque, it is difficult to get a crew there.
"Getting to it and repairing it is sometimes more difficult," he said.
Mon Power has more than 800 distribution and transmission linemen working and another 1,200 other workers repairing outages, Haney said. The number will soon double.
Dick Wittberg, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, said the department's downtown offices were closed Tuesday due to a lack of power.
Wittberg said the offices have been without electricity since Friday's storm.
"We lost a lot of vaccine," which was being stored at the facility in refrigeration units, he said. Wittberg said the majority was flu vaccine, but other vaccines also were being stored. Wittberg said he didn't have an exact count of how much vaccine was lost.
Wittberg said the health department will be closed today due to the holiday, but he hopes to have the offices reopened Thursday.
In the meantime, those without power visited local cooling stations to beat the heat, plug in electronics or have a bite to eat.
The Belpre Bingo Hall across from the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department has served as a refuge for hundreds of people in the last several days, said Joyce Lorentz, who was coordinating the cooling station.
"The crowds are down today, but we are actually seeing a lot of new people, especially the elderly who have reached their breaking point," said Lorentz. "There was a 97-year-old woman who came in today with her son, and she said she held out all weekend, but just couldn't stay at home anymore."
The bingo hall was set up with tables, cots and food, provided by Redwood Restaurant, Belrock Diner, Danny's Pizza and Subway.
"I'll tell you one thing, when disasters strike this community, everyone pitches in," said Lorentz.
Sara Emily Gunsche, who lives off Farson Street, said she has come to the cooling station every day.
"We had to take my boyfriend's grandfather here so he could plug in his oxygen tank," she said. "The hall was absolutely packed this weekend."
Justin Williams, who lives on Washington Boulevard, said has spent hours at the bingo hall plugging in his oxygen tank and relaxing in the air conditioning.
"They have plenty of food, hot coffee and cool beverages," said Williams. "Some people have been sleeping in cots."
As the power is restored, residents should be mindful of kitchen burners and appliances that may have been left on during the outage.
Belpre Volunteer Fire Department responded to 827 Walnut St. around 9 p.m. Monday when a burner caught some flammable materials on fire when power was restored to the residence. The fire was contained to the kitchen and no injuries were reported, said Jeff Bucy, a volunteer firefighter.
In the wake of the storm, many people are filing insurance claims for property damage.
Bob Marshall, a local State Farm agent, said the company has seen a lot of homeowners' claims.
"Roof damage and siding blown off homes," Marshall said.
According to a company spokeswoman, State Farm has had almost 2,000 property insurance claims and 440 auto insurance claims stemming from last weekend's derecho.
"For straight line winds, that was as bad as anything I can recall," Marshall said.
Marshall was thankful there was no hail associated with the derecho.
"We have a lot of roofs that have received damages, power outages and knocked down trees."
Marshall said insurance officials are encouraging people who turn off computers, refrigerators, lights and air conditioners during power outages.
"We ask that you turn all the appliances off," he said. "When power comes back on, you will get a momentary surge or spike that damage things. Before power comes back on go through the house and turn off everything that you can."
Marshall said they encourage residents without electricity to avoid using candles, due to the potential fire hazard.
"We encourage flashlights," he said.
(Jody Murphy and Michael Erb contributed to this article.)