PDT Staff Writer
Days after a powerful storm moved through the area and damage assessments and repairs continue.
“We’re probably going to be looking at half-a-million dollars in insured losses from this event,” Scioto County Emergency Management Agency Director Kim Carver said, Monday, as her agency surveyed the damage from what is being described as a “perfect storm,” on Friday evening. “There is always going to be some cases where people fall through the cracks, because, when we have insured losses, there is not enough uninsured losses, which is what FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) would track to get a significant amount of dollar damage to meet their criteria for grant programs. And then there will be those who didn’t have insurance who won’t have an option.”
Carver said, on the government side, the county does have an initial assessment of approximately $320,000 in costs that would be going out, removing trees in the roadway, and then chipping and disposing of the woody debris from the trees.
It turns out the “perfect storm,” has an actual name. It’s name is Derecho. The National Weather Service at Wilmington says “Derecho” is a Spanish word, meaning “straight” or “right.” In meteorology, the term is used to describe a long-lived, violent straight-line convective wind storm.
A derecho usually takes the form of a squall line or large bow echo, travelling hundreds of miles. Derechos produce widespread wind gusts to severe criteria (50 knots or 58 MPH), and wind gusts to 80 MPH (and even 100 MPH in rare cases) are possible. Eighty MPH winds are what residents of Scioto County experienced Friday evening.
Derechos are not very common, as many atmospheric conditions have to come together perfectly for one to form. Sometimes, extreme winds caused by derechos are mistaken for tornadoes, due to their violent and turbulent nature, the appearance of swirling vortices of wind that can sometimes be observed along the leading edge of the gust front and the significant amount of damage they cause.
Power company technicians were working nearly around the clock Monday as the sun came up, and they got a good clear look at the damage and specifically the work to be done. Monday afternoon crews were at work in New Boston where they shut off power to homes where power had previously been restored in order to do work that would result in more service to other areas of the county. As workers continued to make repairs, Scioto County had 10,204 customers still without electricity, while Adams County had 503, Lawrence County - 7,452, Jackson County - 7,113 and Pike County - 3,205.
AEP reported Monday some five states and over 1.4 million customers had been affected at the height of the outages. At the peak of the storm on Friday, approximately 45 percent of AEP Ohio customers were without power. AEP Ohio had restored power to more than 250,000 of the 660,000 customers affected by the catastrophic storms that moved through the state June 29 by Sunday. Then to make things worse, a line of new storms has resulted in 20,000 additional customer outages Sunday evening.
AEP Ohio said crews are working around the clock to restore service to customers as safely and quickly as possible. Personnel dedicated to system repairs work 16 hours a day, from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. A skeleton crew then goes out and checks jobs that need to be done and remove hazardous situations during the night to get things ready for the next day’s work.
There are also crews that stay in and do support resources work through the night to reconcile restoration completed during the day to prepare work packages, maps and instructions for the crews to use the following morning.
A spokeswoman for AEP Ohio said 201 people were brought into the region through mutual assistance for lines (crews). Thirty-eight external Mutual Assistance Assessors have also been brought in to go out prior to the line to document what repairs and materials to make those repairs are needed.
In our region, 82 people have also been brought in for Mutual Assistance for tree trimming, bringing the total outside workforce to 319. The total workforce once local crews are factored in is 403. In addition 58 internal tree trimmers are being utilized.
“One of the things that continues to be a problem is the weather,” Carver said. “We’re in an unusually warm weather pattern. And it’s going to be this way at least until the end of this week. So any remaining pockets of power outages that we may have, it’s going to be an uncomfortable time period for those folks.”
Carver said, as usual, rumors spread during disasters, and this one is no exception.
“I have had a couple of calls that FEMA is going to provide generators or reimburse you for generators, that’s totally false,” Carver said. “What people are hearing about in the news is that, because Ohio’s governor requested direct federal assistance, there was an emergency declaration for limited direct assistance for response-based type activities to the state. And the only thing the federal government is providing to Ohio counties that are much harder hit than us is the large generators for water and sewer plants, hospitals, nursing homes, and the fuel for those - and then potable water. Many places have no water source right now.”
Carver said most roads are open because crews have been busy moving tree debris off the roads to make them passable. Carver said she estimates the number of downed trees to be around 200 to 300. And in the next couple of months will be cleaning up the woody debris.
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman said most roads are passable and at least two lanes are open in most places. The only roads his crews have not dealt with are where power lines are down, and for safety reasons, workers won’t clean those areas up until power company crews have handled the downed lines.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org