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Residents without power seek water, relief

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Sissonville residents living with sweltering heat a week after powerful storms ripped through the state hope Sunday will be the day their power comes on.

Nearly 160,000 West Virginia customers were without electricity Friday evening while power companies worked to repair lines and poles damaged by one of the worst storms to hit the state.

Families like Keith and Anna McClanahan's found creative ways to keep their young daughter from overheating as temperatures reached the upper 90s.

"We were letting her run through the water hose but even that got way too hot," Anna McClanahan said of her 13-month-old daughter, Isabella.

She and her husband, of Sissonville, brought the baby to a shelter established by the pastors at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

Keith McClanahan said they've been without power since the derecho hit and have stayed at the shelter during daylight hours before they return home each evening to sleep.

"We just open up all the windows and lay in our bed," he said.

Jody Jones and his 13-year-old son, Dalton, came to the shelter for the first time Friday and had planned to spend the night.

They'd been holding out hoping power would eventually be restored to their Rocky Shoals Road home. They ate canned food and used coolers to keep ice and water before it ran out.

"It's been torture," Dalton Jones said.

The young boy said he couldn't wait to return home Sunday night to an air-conditioned home.

Appalachian Power expects services to be restored to all of Kanawha County by Sunday night. There were 108,000 Appalachian Power customers without power in West Virginia on Friday, the company announced in a news release Friday evening.

Pastors Brad and Stephanie Bennett thanked God they finished work on the church's kitchen area and gymnasium a month before the storm knocked out power in the area.

They've provided an average of about 160 meals a day to guests at the shelter and about nine people have been staying there overnight, Brad Bennett said.

"We completed this shelter just in time for this crisis that no one could have seen coming," he said.

Up the road at Flinn Elementary School, Sissonville Volunteer firefighter Amber Elmore and other volunteers handed out pallets of ice and water.

"It's times when we feel hopeless that we find that sense of community," Elmore said.

A steady stream of people arrived to collect bags of ice and cases of water.

Sharon Sigmon came to pick up water for her daughter and son-in-law, who lost their trailer when a tree fell through it.

Even though Sigmon doesn't have electricity herself, she's kept her family fed by giving them hot bologna sandwiches and canned food.

More than 600 members of the West Virginia National Guard are stationed across the state and have given out about 98 generators, 427,167 gallons of water and 396,000 meals. Teams are also going door to door to check on people.

On Friday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin visited damaged areas. Tomblin issued a burning ban as water becomes scarce.

 A third storm in West Virginia since last week caused an additional 40,000 Appalachian Power customers to lose power Thursday.

A lightning strike forced Kanawha County Metro 911 to temporarily move to an alternate location. It took Frontier Communications workers Thursday night and most of Friday to restore phone service to the center.

The phone company said that it's brought in 40 employees from Pennsylvania and New York to help repair damage from around the state.

At the peak of the storm's aftermath, more than 330,000 Appalachian Power customers were without power. More than 4,400 Appalachian Powers workers, who have come from 22 states to help with outages in West Virginia and Virginia, have restored power to more than 228,000 homes and businesses.

Appalachian Power said residents in Greenbrier, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Putnam and Summers counties were expected to have power Friday night.

Boone, Cabell, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo and Wayne counties should have power back tonight, the company said. By Sunday, Clay, Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Roane and Wyoming counties should have power, the company said.

FirstEnergy said customers in the following towns should have power back Friday: Burnsville, Cowen, Craigsville, Ivydale, Mannington, Monongah, Richwood and White Sulphur Springs.

By Sunday, everyone else in FirstEnergy's service district should have power restored, the company said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.

 


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