(Apco photo)

From Appalachian Power: The power is out for more than 50,000 Appalachian Power customers after damaging winds with peak gusts of 60 mph tore through parts of the service territory on Sunday. The winds were part of a strong weather system that affected multiple states and large population centers from Illinois to the east coast. The combination of high winds, along with moisture-saturated soil from prolonged rainfall, led to downed trees and debris, broken poles and cross arms. Crews began assessing the damage and restoring service on large known outages yesterday, but the high winds continuing into the evening slowed down the work due to safety concerns. Workers cannot safely make repairs aloft from buckets in wind speeds in excess of 30 mph, and cannot safely work in forested areas where high wind gusts are still bringing down trees and limbs. Employees are continuing to assess damage today, where it is safe to do so, to determine the full impact on transmission and distribution lines. Outages are widespread across Appalachian Power’s service area. Currently the number of customers without service is about 26,000 in Virginia and 25,000 in West Virginia.

About 1,400 employees and contractors are working to assess damage, clear safety hazards and repair damage on outages. Due to the storm’s impact on multiple states, it is difficult to obtain additional outside assistance from nearby states, but an additional 250 workers from Mississippi and Georgia have been requested to help with the restoration efforts.

Continued high winds are hampering restoration efforts and some areas are inaccessible due to high water. Drones and helicopters will be utilized to assess areas that remain too hazardous for crews to access. Until the high winds subside and the extent of damage is more fully known, restoration estimates cannot be accurately determined.