About 20,000 Kanawha County customers are without power following Monday evening’s storm, according to Phil Moye, communications manager for Appalachian Power Company.
Crews with AEP are currently out assessing fallout from the storm, and until there is a more thorough understanding of the damage done -- around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, there were at least 300 places identified as needing repairs -- it’s difficult to say when customers will be reconnected, Moye said.
On Monday evening, power outages peaked with about 25,000 customers out of service due to damage, according to Moye. C.W. Sigman, director of emergency management for Kanawha County, said that it could take a couple days for everyone currently without power to regain it.
“The most damage we have here is on the power grid,” Sigman said. “We’re checking for stream blockages and structural damage, but the power -- that’s what’s the most widespread and affecting the most people.”
Repairs span from removing downed trees, fixing fallen power poles and reconnected fallen power lines. Moye said at least 200 AEP workers from other counties not affected by the storm are currently en route to Charleston to assist Kanawha County workers with repairs and, hopefully, expedite the process.
There are a few road closures throughout Kanawha County, Sigman said, where either trees are blocking the roadways or where teams from the Division of Highways are waiting for AEP to secure live power lines so they can clear the streets.
If residents see lines that are down or disconnected, Moye said they should assume it’s an energized line and to stay far away from it.
“Don’t go near it, it could be dangerous,” Moye said. “Keep your distance and call [AEP] and report it so we can know something is down and send someone to fix it.”
Sigman said there have not been any injuries reported from the storm. Emergency personnel responded to a fire Tuesday morning from a generator, as well as a few carbon monoxide calls -- probably from generators being too close to homes, Sigman said.
“If you’re out there using generators for power, keep them away from your homes,” Sigman said. “We cannot stress that enough.”
A tornado warning was issued for Monday night’s storm around 6:45 and was in effect until 7:15 p.m. Dispatchers at Metro 911 at the time said they received several calls from residents in the Charleston and South Charleston areas reporting they saw tornado touchdowns.
A forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Charleston office on Tuesday morning said survey teams from the organization were currently spread throughout the county, assessing damage from the storm and potential tornado.
Once all their data is compiled, they will release a storm survey that will clarify whether the storm was or was not -- by definition -- a tornado, and if so, how strong the winds were and the path it took.
Metro 911 dispatchers said Monday evening that they received a few rescue calls from individuals, which Sigman said were mostly from people stuck in cars, sometimes under live power lines.
“Those people, the ones that called in, they did the right thing by staying in the car,” Sigman said. “If you step out, you may become grounded and that’s when you get hurt.”