A strong weather system that swept across several states brought drenching rain and damaging winds to much of Appalachian Power’s service area before dawn Monday.
As of Monday, an estimated 53,000 customers – including hundreds in Patrick and Henry countries, were without electric service as a result of storm damage. Additional outages were expected through Monday, as high wind gusts continue in areas with moisture-saturated soil.
Outages are widespread across Appalachian Power’s service area, with 21,000 customers affected in Virginia and another 32,000 in West Virginia. There are numerous large outages, including more than 100 that each affect more than 100 customers.
Employees and contractors across the company are working to assess damage, clear safety hazards and repair damage on outages affecting large numbers of customers. Some crews from outside the company’s service area are traveling to help with restoration efforts, and the company also is working to secure additional resources.
Both the widespread nature of the storm and COVID-19 travel restrictions make securing additional resources more difficult, according to a release from the company.
“However, we have planned for this and are working through that plan today. Our employee COVID-19 safety precautions, including keeping a safe distance from customers, wearing bandanas or masks and gloves, and so on, remain in place. Our priorities will be protecting our employees, our customers and the public while restoring power,” the release stated.
Restoration is expected to be a multiple-day effort. Rain and high winds continue in many areas, and until the storm threat has passed and the extent of damage is more fully known, restoration estimates cannot be accurately determined as high winds are forecast Monday in parts of the company’s service area will hamper workers’ ability to assess damage and make repairs.
High winds can cause fallen trees and downed power lines. Customers should treat all downed lines as live power lines and stay away from them. Never touch downed power lines or sparking equipment. Keep children and pets away from fallen lines and anything the lines may touch.
“Please protect yourself and our employees and contractors by not approaching them as they work to restore power. Maintaining social distancing is the best way you can help our crews,” the release stated.