Thousands of local residents remained without electricity Sunday, water service was in jeopardy in some communities and federal and state declarations of emergency remained in place.
Temperatures climbed into the mid-90s Sunday afternoon, two days after a storm packing high winds blew through the area Friday evening, downing trees and power lines.
Saturday morning American Electric Power of Ohio was reporting more than 600,000 customers without power in the Buckeye State. By Sunday that figure had dropped to about 431,000, according to AEP Ohio spokesman Jeff Rennie. The Associated Press reported Sunday there about 700,000 Ohioans total still without power.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
ABOVE: Friday’s storm blew a tree onto a home on Montgomery Street in Marietta, taking part of the sidewalk with it.
BELOW: Vehicles were lined up Sunday afternoon at the Par Mar station on Alta Street in Marietta. Long lines for gas were the norm across the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"We're projecting 90 percent of those affected by the storm will have their power restored by Friday," Rennie said. "About 1,850 AEP employees have been committed to the effort-that's double our typical complement of workers. We've called in extra people from neighboring states."
Rennie said the employees have been working 16-hour shifts all weekend to get the power back on.
In the Marietta and Washington County area he said 18,316 customers were still without power as of 5 p.m. Sunday.
"It's some improvement. We had 28,601 customers who had lost power by 8 a.m. Saturday," Rennie said. "This storm had winds close to 80 mph. It blew trees into power lines and knocked down poles and other equipment."
He said the storm was widespread and power outages were not limited to certain areas but were fairly evenly distributed.
Many local customers in West Virginia also remained without power Sunday evening. Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford announced that if power wasn't restored by late Sunday, the city would have to cut water service to residents.
Home damage was also widespread.
Jeff Lauer, director of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, said some of the worst damage was reported in Grandview Township.
"A house trailer was moved off its foundation, and the roof blew off of a house in that area," he said. "And we initially had no communication with the Grandview Township area due to the power outage."
On East Montgomery Street in Marietta a huge uprooted tree fell through the roof of a home in the 100 block, taking part of the sidewalk with it.
A neighbor, Comer Fryman, 81, said the home was being rented by a man about 80 years old.
"He was in the house when the tree went down and he didn't even know it," Fryman said.
He said a lot of spectators have come by to see the damaged house.
"I think this has been the most popular street in town," Fryman added.
Lt. Marc Coppernoll with the Marietta Fire Department said a generator caught fire at the Washington County Courthouse Annex, soon after the power outage Friday night.
"It knocked the air conditioning out," he said.
The courthouse is closed today.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said Marietta and Washington County remained under a state of emergency declaration Sunday. President Barack Obama also declared a federal emergency.
"Residents should travel only if necessary, because there are still many work crews out in the county," he said. "And people should call their employers first to see if they should go into work on Monday."
Traffic spilled into the streets near some Marietta gas stations on Saturday and Sunday as people scrambled to fill up at a limited number of operational fuel pumps.
"People are getting hot and frustrated, and tempers sometimes flare when drivers in line try to cut in front of each other," said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite.
But he added that, overall, drivers had remained courteous through the weekend, in spite of traffic signal outages at most of the city's intersections.
"We have to commend our citizens. Most stopped at those intersections, which become four-way stops when the traffic lights are out," Waite said.
Electrical service was slowly returning in Marietta Sunday, and by 4:30 p.m. many areas of the city were reporting power had been restored.
Marietta Fire Capt. Jack Hansis said residents should be cautious about reconnecting appliances immediately after electricity is restored.
"When the power lines are first re-energized, everyone wants to get their refrigerators and air conditioners immediately up and running, but the power lines may not be able to take it all at once, which can cause a transformer to blow," he said. "People should prioritize which appliances they'll need most, and just turn them on at first."
Hansis also cautioned residents to be careful when using power generators.
"A lot of people are first-time generator owners," he said. "And they should thoroughly read the instructions before plugging a generator in. Never plug it directly into your home's electrical system, because it can cause a transformer overload or even kill a lineman who may be working on the line."
He added that generators should never be operated in a garage or other enclosed area, with or without the doors and windows open.
A boil water alert remains in effect for all of Marietta after pumps lost power at the city's water plant, according to Coppernoll.
"The city's water system is gravity-fed, but when the pumps went out they couldn't pump water from the well fields to the city water tank," he explained. "After power was restored to the pumps, a boil alert had to be issued."
Hansis said before drinking or cooking with water from the tap, it should be brought to a rapid boil for at least two minutes for safe use.
The boil advisory will continue through today.
Sheri Schwartz with the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross said cooling stations were set up Sunday at the New Matamoras Elementary School and at Lookout Park on Harmar Hill in Marietta.
"We provide air conditioning, water and a place to sit and cool off," she said. "And at New Matamoras Elementary the Salvation Army is helping with sandwiches, cookies, and orange juice until the supply runs out."
Schwartz said the most immediate needs for people at this time are for water and ice, but she expects food needs will soon follow as those still without power begin to empty spoiled food from their refrigerators.
She said cooling stations are also scheduled to be open today, but the exact locations have not been determined. Local radio stations will announce those locations after 8 a.m.