MASON COUNTY — Residents of Mason County were still making the best out of a bad situation on Tuesday, four days after a freakish, summer storm blew through and blew out the lights.
Monday afternoon into Tuesday night, many areas (thought not all) in the City of Point Pleasant began to come back to life and on the grid. However, other areas in the county weren’t so lucky and were facing another day without electricity and soaring temperatures.
Chuck Blake, who is the director of Mason County Emergency Management, Mason County EMS and Mason County 9-1-1, said as of early Tuesday afternoon there were just over 8,000 Appalachian Electric Power customers without electricity in Mason County - there are a total of 14,866 AEP customers in Mason County. He explained there were still outages across the area such as beyond the city limits of Point Pleasant, Southside, Henderson, the Bend Area and the southern end of the county along W.Va. 2 - basically outages were still being felt by the majority of residents. AEP is saying July 5 is a tentative restoration date for electricity in Mason County.
On Monday night, 58 people slept at the emergency shelter set up at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School. Blake said many other people who didn’t stay overnight at the shelter stopped in during the day to utilize it as a cooling station or to eat before heading back to their homes. Blake said food as well as where to get it (and how to keep it cold) is a major issue right now. With no power for refrigeration, no ice to be found and those who sell perishable food having to trash their inventories and start over, access to food has become a problem. Blake said Mason County Emergency Management has requested 3,000 instant meals (similar to to MRE food kits the military uses) to give to those in need who are returning home to refrigerators full of spoiled food with no way to immediately replenish their supplies. There is no word on if or when these meals will arrive.
Many county residents who have had their power restored have been restocking their groceries by traveling to retailers in Gallipolis, Ohio, Pomeroy, Ohio and beyond. However, on Tuesday afternoon the Mason Walmart had reopened its doors in limited capacity to sell nonperishable food items and its pharmacy had reopened. As of Tuesday afternoon power had not returned to Twin Rivers Foodland, according to a Foodland spokesperson. The Twin Rivers Foodland is Point Pleasant’s only full service grocery store and services many in the community - including several housing developments within walking distance of the establishment. There is no word on when the Foodland store will reopen but with power coming on all around it, the hope is that will happen sooner rather than later.
At this point after the storm, Blake said the majority of calls coming into the 9-1-1 center were questions about when the electricity is coming back on, where to find drinking water and ice and how to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance now that President Obama declared the state a disaster area. Blake said as for when the electricity returns, his agency really had no way of knowing. As for the drinking water, it is being made available to those who need it at all fire stations throughout the county.p Ice is a hot (or rather cold) commodity as well and Blake said his agency had been trying to secure bags of ice for distribution but so far no luck. When it comes to calls about FEMA, Blake said his agency cannot process claims or answer those questions - these questions should be directed to FEMA which can be reached toll free at 1-800-621-FEMA.
Blake said FEMA had provided emergency generators for use around the county where they would do the most good for the most people, including at the 9-1-1 center, all radio towers and EMS stations.
Blake said if any resident has dire needs for things like water, transportation or other emergencies, his staff will try to do all they can do to help.
“We will try to find a solution for the problem,” Blake said.
Residents with non life threatening issues related to the storm should not call 9-1-1 but the Mason County Emergency Operations Center at 304-675-8686.
(Note: As for storm-related injuries, Blake said some people were seriously injured at an RV park on Charleston Rd. on Friday night after the storm hit.)