Route 119 north of Grafton, was closed at various times throughout Wednesday afternoon due to multiple trees falling on the roadway.
GRAFTON – As Superstorm Sandy fades away, the aftermath is being dealt with across the country. Taylor County, and neighboring counties are digging out, cleaning up and waiting for the power to come back on.
According to the Associated Press (AP), as of Thursday morning, Nov. 1 over 154,000 homes are still without power.
FirstEnergy’s website says nearly 81,000 customers of Mon Power and Potomac Edison are without electricity Thursday. A majority of its customers in Barbour, Braxton, Nicholas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur and Webster counties had no power. Preston County had the most outages at 14,000.
Another AP story indicates that 40% of Nicholas County’s roads are closed, along with 33 other roads across the state. Including US Route 250 in Barbour County.
FirstEnergy’s website, as of Thursday morning, listed outings to 1,388 Taylor county customers; 13,423 Preston County customers; 6,532 Barbour County customers; 1,729 Monongalia County customers; 6,329 Tucker County customers; and 9,582 Randolph County customers.
According to a spokesperson at Mon Power, the company cannot give estimates on when the power will be back on. Mon Power urges those with power outages to call 888-544-4877, if they have not already done so. They further stress that downed power lines should be treated as if they are live, and not be approached.
Line technicians from other states are currently en-route to West Virginia to help in the restoration efforts, and FirstEnergy personnel are working around the clock to get the power back on.
In Taylor County, Route 119 north of Grafton, and route 50 east of Grafton were both closed at various times over the last three days as trees continued to fall.
An American Red Cross Shelter was opened at Grafton High School Tuesday, and according to Red Cross volunteer, Mike Lancaster, three people sought refuge in the shelter on Tuesday night, and another two on Wednesday morning. Red Cross brought food from Morgantown, set up eight cots and used the school’s home economics classroom to cook hot meals.
Plum Run resident, Charlie Moats, and his wife came in on Wednesday morning “to get warm.”
Lancaster praised the school for allowing the shelter to be opened, and stated that the janitors at the school have been a huge help.
According to Taylor County Office of Emergency Services Director, Mark Knotts, now that the worst of the storm has passed, emergency crews are watching for flooding in the area. Knotts also requested that residents submit storm damage pictures to the Mountain Statesman Facebook page, as a running record of what Sandy brought to Taylor County.
Schools in Taylor County were closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and Taylor County schools will be closed on Friday, as well.
According to the AP, At least six West Virginians have died in Superstorm Sandy or its aftermath, including a state legislative candidate killed while checking his deer farm for damage, officials said Wednesday. Republican House of Delegates candidate, John Rose Sr., of Barbour County was checking fences on his farm Tuesday, when a falling tree limb struck him.
The AP has listed hazards to be aware of after Sandy.
— Downed power lines. Avoid them because they may still be live. And report them to the power company.
— Trees. Check for cracks, dangerous leaning and soil fractures that may indicate unstable roots and a tree about to topple.
— Flooded roads and bridges. Don’t drive on them because they may have weakened.
— Well water. If you get your water from a well, don’t drink or prepare food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
— Returning home. Stay out of any building if it’s still surrounded by flood water, if you smell gas or if there are signs of damage and it hasn’t been declared safe by a building inspector or structural engineer.
— Backup power. Never use generators inside homes, garages, crawl spaces or sheds, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up and linger for hours, even after the generator has been shut off.
— Grilling. Never fire up a charcoal grill inside a house, fireplace or tent because it also produces carbon monoxide.
— In the dark. Use battery-powered flashlights, not candles. The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering a dark home because the battery could produce a spark and ignite leaking gas. Unattended candles can cause fires.
— In the fridge. Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
— Cleaning up. Wear protective clothing and be cautious to avoid injury.