LAWRENCE TWP. - While the number of area residents without electricity has decreased dramatically over the last week, more than 3,500 customers marked a full week with no power Friday.
"We're doing OK, but it's just kind of scary," said Lawrence Township resident Lisa Wenzel, 50.
Wenzel has been worried about keeping her insulin supply cold with no electricity and temperatures in the 90s or higher after a storm bearing winds of nearly 80 mph ripped through the valley on June 29. More than 30,000 customers of AEP Ohio and the Washington Electric Cooperative lost power in Washington County alone.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Lawrence Township resident Hunter Wenzel, 11, prepares to close the lid on an enclosure after giving fresh water to one of his family’s rabbits Friday.
Wenzel and her family traveled to Marietta and New Matamoras the day after the storms, and came back with less than a pound of ice. Later they were able to purchase six 22-pound bags at Giant Eagle in Marietta, but even that - and a supplement from the Red Cross later in the week - only lasted so long.
"We had six coolers going, and there's water everywhere," Wenzel said.
On Thursday night, friends from Cambridge surprised them by bringing a small generator they no longer needed after their electricity was restored.
People without transportation and in need of ice or water can contact the Washington County Sheriff's Office at 376-7070, ext. 0, to request items be brought to them.
People with transportation are asked to go to the nearest volunteer fire department or cooling station. To find out which departments or stations have supplies, they can also contact the sheriff's office.
The Gospel Mission in the Harmar Community Center at 307 Lancaster St., Marietta, will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday providing water to people in need. For more information, call (740) 350-4417.
Power outages as of Friday night:
AEP Ohio Customers
Washington County - 1,878.
Morgan County - 128.
Noble County - 202.
Washington Electric Cooperative - approximately 1,500.
Wood County - 7,000.
Source: www.aepohio.com, www.weci.org
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said that kind of giving between residents, along with the efforts of local businesses, volunteer firefighters and public employees working overtime, has helped many people make it through the recent power outages and soaring temperatures.
"There are an untold number of people who are checking on their neighbors" and sharing generators, he said.
A new cooling station was added Friday by the county Emergency Management Agency and the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross. Volunteers and a sheriff's deputy brought ice and water to the Ludlow Watershed building on Ohio 26 north of Wingett Run around 2:30 p.m.
By 5:30, they had served 15 families, Red Cross volunteer Josh Booth said.
The cooling station, which also features window air conditioners powered by a portable generator, is positioned in the eastern portion of the county, which seems to have the most people still without power, Mincks said.
According to AEP Ohio's website, less than 2,000 customers in Washington County remained without power as of 9 p.m. Friday, along with about 340 combined in Morgan and Noble counties. The Washington Electric Cooperative had about 1,500 customers, primarily in Washington and Monroe counties, still lacking electricity.
AEP's website estimated restoration between midnight Friday and midnight Sunday for most local customers. The co-op's site estimated restoration for most customers would come by Sunday, but said it could take longer to get everyone back on the grid.
AEP Ohio spokeswoman Terri Flora said workers are doing their best to get power restored to everyone as quickly as possible, even as they work in extreme heat.
"I know for those who have been out for a week, it's not soon enough. And we recognize that," she said.
One reason it's taken so long is that portions of the work have been more like reconstruction than restoration, Flora said. That includes repairs to transmission lines that are located in rural areas that are more difficult to access.
Both AEP Ohio and co-op spokespeople said workers have been focusing on substations and transmission lines first, working to get the most power back to the most people.
"Now we're getting into the communities where maybe five people are out or 10 people are out, and it takes the same amount of time" to fix, Flora said.
Flora said AEP workers cannot repair damaged service drops on a resident's property. That responsibility falls to the resident, so people still without power should check to see if lines are disconnected from the meter or the meter is damaged and get an electrician to repair it.
With the exception of a generator reported stolen from a home outside Marietta the day after the storm, law enforcement has reported little criminal activity as a result of the outages.
"There were several tempers flaring during the outages," said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite, noting officers directed traffic at some gas stations when long lines were forming as electricity returned. "We were able to keep it contained."
Marietta Memorial Hospital's emergency room saw a higher-than-usual number of people coming in with heat-related illnesses this week, said Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations for the Memorial Health System.
Saturday's high temperature is projected to be 100, with a chance of thunderstorms and a high of 92 predicted for Sunday.
, according to the National Weather Service. Highs are expected to be in the mid-80s Monday and Tuesday.