Jun 30, 2012

WV Governor's Disaster Declaration - 85%* of State Without Power for Several Days!

*Updated per this from WSAZ
    "Saturday, President and COO of AEP, Charles Patton spoke and said 85 percent of West Virginia customers are without power. Patton says this is not only AEP, but all power companies."

And a photo posted from here


It began in Chicago, like this:


June 29th brought in a Perfect Storm, what's called a Derecho (meaning straight line), or Land Hurricane.  And that it was.  It was absolutely devastating in terms of wind damage.  Here is how Accuweather warned of it's approach on a Friday evening when most were making ready for summer weekend of recreation.  If you watch their video you will see it take dead aim at West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington D.C., moving at 45 to 70 mph.

(Video) WV Disaster Declaration - West Virginia's Eyewitness News

Per this video Gov. Tomblin said the Homeland Security Director's house burned down because of the storm.  Now that is ironic, almost symbolic of how West Virginia was targeted and how difficult it will be to restore power and fix what can only be called a state-wide catastrophe.  The problem is that over 50 substations must be repaired by AEP [edit, updated] plus another 70 substations of FirstEnergy companies, that is 120 substations total, not just downed power lines.   They are saying that it will take over a week to restore all power, so plan accordingly, as if camping at home.

West Virginians will be in the dark, without air conditioning, refrigeration, home computers/TV's, and without power and gas for days.

FEMA generators are on the way.  Priority is nursing homes and hospitals.

State National Guard is being deployed to help these facilities for life safety and secondly to clear secondary roads for power crews.

The power outage will continue for days, so be prepared and plan accordingly. Governor says to stay off roads and not travel unless absolutely necessary.  Life will be abnormal and inconvenient for awhile, so get used to it.

There is a serious shortage of gas since most all stations are without power and many of those which did have power are now out and say that refueling trucks are not running consistently.  Don't drive unless absolutely necessary since power will not be restored to stations for a few days.  If you head out of town you likely will not find enough gas to finish your trip, and it is hard to find gas when you return to the Kanawha Valley.

Beckley has no stations presently pumping gas whatsoever.  They have 95% power outage in Raleigh and Nicholas counties.  70% out in Kanawha County.  AEP outage map here.
FirstEnergy providers for northern and eastern West Virginia, MonPower and PotomacEdison outage maps here.

We have called extensively and been unable to locate any stations in the Kanawha Valley pumping regular unleaded as of this post.  Most are without power or out of gas for now.  The Go Mart in Kanawha City said they hope to have a tanker within 12 hours again.  Other stations in Dunbar and Jefferson are in the same position.

[Gas availability updated Sunday morning, July 1st]:
The following locations with gas stations have power and may have gas depending on their supply (tankers are not running keeping up with demand).  (This list will not be continuously updated).  Plan to wait in line:

MacCorkle Ave. Jefferson Go Mart and Rich's
Nitro Sunoco by St. Albans bridge
Dunbar Go Mart (was out of gas last night),
West Washington St. GoMart (Charleston)
Bigley Ave Go Mart (N. Charleston)
Kanawha City Go Mart
Barboursville (including Rt 2 station at newest exit)
Clarksburg (Mall exit)
Roane County stations
Clay County stations
Princeton and Bluefield (some stations)

These same areas of course have power so you might find groceries available (e.g. Dunbar, Kanawha City, etc).  
Some Sheetz stations (e.g. Beckley) have generators and sell in store items but not pumping gas.

Saturday, State Police were limiting exit traffic at Beaver Exit on I-64 near Beckley and there were many motorists stopped and out of gas in the Beckley area, since no gas is available there due to power outages.  The Go Mart employee reported that many travelers were blocking roads looking for gas in that area.  There is none.

Please be courteous and careful driving since most intersections have no power or traffic lights.  Don't plow through intersections as if you have the right of way (or brake suddenly if on a main highway), because without traffic control you're not always clear.  Slow down and take turns yielding if in doubt.  Unfortunately there are many driving aggressively without regard for others or being considerate of the whole situation.  Be polite, patient, and help things remain in good order by heeding the Governor's admonition to stay off the roads unless it is really necessary.

Further Note of Interest about Power Outages

NASA has warned of super solar flares in 2012 to 2013, which could result in similar mass outages, nationwide and globally.  It is worthing thinking about and preparing for, with this event as a warning and sample of what could take place.