It's been a week since a storm packing high winds knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Washington County and 65 other Ohio counties.
As of 9:30 p.m. Thursday, American Electric Power of Ohio reported 4,947 customers remained without power in Washington County, while Washington Electric Cooperative, Inc., had a total of 2,250 members still without electricity in Washington, Monroe and Noble counties.
"We were able to get 756 connections restored (Thursday), with most of the progress made in the Churchtown and Waterford areas," said Jennifer Greene, spokesperson for Washington Electric Coop.
JESS MANCINI Special to the Times
Lightning strikes west of Belpre early Thursday morning, as viewed from Point Park. The area has continued to experience storms nearly every day following the violent storm that caused massive power outages one week ago.
She said the majority of the cooperative's remaining outages are in eastern Washington County and Monroe County.
"The storm really tore up those areas," Greene said. "We had 118 of our power poles broken off in the storm, and it will take some time to reset those."
She said all of the cooperative's customers should have power restored by Monday, and it is hoped most will be back on line over the weekend.
Ice Cream Social delayed
- The annual Broughton Ice Cream Social, originally slated for Sunday, has been postponed to Sunday, July 22, at the Washington County Fairgrounds. This year's event benefits Right Path for Washington County, 10 area food pantries, and Harvest of Hope. Advance tickets already sold will be honored at the July 22 event. For tickets and info, call 740-374-6990.
Storm aftermath update
- AEP Ohio customers without power at 9:30 p.m. Thursday:
More info at www.aepohio.com
- Washington Electric Cooperative reported 2,250 members without power in Washington, Monroe and Noble counties Thursday night. More info during business hours at (740) 373-2141.
At a glance
- AEP requests anyone using generators to contact the company first via the web site or call 1-800-672-2231.
- Washington County Sheriff's Office personnel continued delivering water and ice to outlying areas of the county on Thursday.
Call (740) 376-7070, ext. 0 for more information and assistance with storm-related issues.
- The Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross is operating a cooling station with water and ice at the chapter house at 401 Fourth St. in Marietta. Call (740) 373-0281 for more information.
- Marietta residents are requested to conserve water usage as city water tanks are not yet filled to capacity.
- Marietta residents who are still without power or who have concerns about tree limbs on power lines should contact Marietta City Hall at (740) 373-1387. More city information is available at www.mariettaoh.net
- The Washington County Department of Job and Family Services has received some emergency federal funding to assist needy residents affected by the recent power outage with gasoline and food costs. Low family income criteria apply (below 200 percent of the federal poverty level). For more information, call (740) 373-5513.
Although electricity has been restored in some areas of the county, others could be stuck without power until next week. And temperatures are expected to approach the 100-degree mark into the weekend again.
Officials are urging area residents in areas still without electricity to check on neighbors and the elderly to be sure they're safe during the hot weather.
"If they find someone in need of help, they can call the county emergency operations center at 376-7070, ext. 0," said Jeff Lauer, director of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency.
He said hydration is important for those who have to remain in their homes without electricity for cooling devices.
"Make sure you do drink a lot of water," Lauer said. "Heat exhaustion results from a lack of hydration in your body. FEMA recommends drinking three liters of water every day to stay hydrated."
Water and ice continued to be the most requested items from those who remained powerless Thursday.
Harmar Hill resident Steve Dickinson picked up a couple bags of ice at the Washington County Red Cross Chapter House Thursday afternoon.
"The power was on earlier this week in our area, but it went out again on Wednesday," he said. "AEP said it would probably be out until midnight Friday."
Dickinson said he tried to preserve what little air conditioning was left in his apartment by closing windows and doors.
"It was still about 70 degrees today, and I'm keeping food cold in a styrofoam cooler," he said. "We lost a lot of food after the power went off last week, so I went out and bought more. Now we need ice to preserve it."
Red Cross worker Charles Schwartz said a lot of people have been asking for ice, and the supply has been running low.
"I've been getting some ice from local people I know who have ice-making machines," he said. "We bring it here and bag it to hand out to those who need it."
Schwartz said ice and water have been available at the chapter house that operated as a local cooling station Wednesday and Thursday, and is expected to be open again today.
Other cooling stations that were open Thursday included the Grandview Volunteer Fire Department and Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department.
Red Cross and county emergency officials have been meeting at 8 a.m. daily since the storm to determine where cooling stations may be needed. Each day's locations are announced on local radio stations.
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said city residents are also encouraged to keep an eye on neighbors.
"They should especially check in with people who may be on oxygen therapy," he said. "If they need help they can call city hall at 373-1387, or call the county emergency operations center."
Lauer said the Washington County Home on County House Lane is available for residents without electricity who utilize an oxygen concentrator.
"But they must first call the emergency operations center to make arrangements," he said.
Since Saturday personnel with the Washington County Sheriff's Office have continued to distribute water and ice in areas of the county that remain without power.
"They were going door to door in areas without electricity and dropping off ice and water earlier this week," Lauer said. "But people have also been calling in and we're getting it out to them."
One concern is that some people who are able to get to a store and purchase water and ice may be asking for free supplies, Lauer said.
"We're just asking people who really need it and have no other way to get the ice and water to call," he said.
Matthews said he's continuing to ask citizens to conserve water by not washing their vehicles or watering lawns. He said the city's seven water tanks are continuing to be filled from the well fields. Some are full and others half to three-quarters full.
"We're still asking people to conserve because we want all of the tanks to be completely full," Matthews said, noting that the current state of emergency declaration would remain for the city until the local water situation is stable and all city power is completely restored.
The Washington County Department of Job and Family Services is offering assistance to needy residents affected by the storm, according to director Tom Ballengee.
He said the department has received $30,000 in federal funds to help families with children under age 18, and another $7,500 in federal funding to help elderly and disabled individuals.
Beginning Monday those eligible can apply for a $100 gasoline card or a $100 food card, or a combination of one $50 gasoline card and one $50 food card.
Applications will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday, July 9, through Aug. 2, or until all of the funding is exhausted, according to a news release from Ballengee, who said only one application will be accepted per qualifying household.
"Despite the limited funding available, we are hoping to be able to help our local residents in this great time of need through the implementation of this program," Ballengee said.
The Job and Family Services Office is located at 1115 Gilman Ave. in Marietta, and applicants must visit the office with identification and proof of residence in order to participate in the program.
At least two local accidents have been linked to last week's storm, according to Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.
Shortly after the storm struck on June 29, Lowell resident Bob Kubota, 62, chief of the Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department, climbed onto the roof of his home at 668 Cairnes Road to clear away some debris.
"His foot became tangled in some tree branches and he lost his balance and fell from the roof, landing on his face and shoulder," Mincks said. "His wife took him to Marietta Memorial Hospital and he was later transferred to Grant Medical Center in Columbus."
Medical center personnel reported Kubota was in stable condition Thursday evening.
On Tuesday the Grandview and Newport volunteer fire departments responded to a blaze at 923 Old Beavertown Road, New Matamoras where a lighted oil lamp and lighted candle had caught the kitchen on fire.
Resident Shawn M. Weaver, 32, was home at the time and taking a shower when he heard a smoke alarm sounding, and observed smoke emanating from the kitchen area.
Mincks said it appeared that the oil lamp may have leaked and caused the fire. The blaze was confined to the kitchen, but the living room of the home may have sustained some water damage.
The storm has also caused postponement of the annual Broughton Ice Cream Social to Sunday, July 22, at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
The event was originally slated to take place Sunday.
"Broughton workers have been working around the clock to keep their plant up and running. With so many people in our community without power, water and ice, we realize that eating ice cream is the last thing on many of their minds," said Cathy Harper with Washington County Right Path.
She said it's hoped the entire community will be back to normal by July 22 and will be able to join this year's event to benefit The Right Path, 10 area food pantries, and Harvest of Hope.
Harper said tickets already purchased for the event will be honored on July 22, and are still available in advance by calling (740)374-6990.
Marietta City Council members expressed appreciation Thursday for city crews who worked around the clock to clean up downed trees and other debris from city streets as well as to keep water service to the community following last week's storm.
"We've had quite a week. A lot of people are still without electricity and water," said Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large. "I thank the city employees who have worked out in this heat to restore services, and we thank local merchants who helped with supplies."
Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, thanked Mayor Matthews and the city workers.
"This was a herculean effort by our city crews who did a great job," he said. "It's amazing to think how much we take basics like water and electricity for granted."
Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, also thanked the mayor and city employees and added that the city should consider developing a backup system to provide services in case another event of this magnitude should occur in the future.