“The main threat that I’m worried about as far as Emergency Management is concerned is the frigid temperatures on the back side of this storm, which will be dipping into the teens here for the first time this season,” Scioto County Emergency Management Agency Director Kim Carver said. “We want to make sure that we can get the power restored quickly, so that we don’t have people affected by cold temperatures in their homes.”
Temperatures into the teens can be anticipated for overnight lows and daytime highs only near the freezing mark as unseasonable weather conditions have been brought in on the heels of what was described by Carver as “a tremendously dynamic winter storm that caused at least five deaths nationally and crippled hundreds of communities with blowing and drifting snow and ice.”
At about 2 p.m. Wednesday, Carver said American Electric Power was reporting outages of about 1,200 customers, with new reports coming in continually as winds continued to blow.
American Red Cross and other agencies were put on standby status in the event sheltering is required from widespread power outages and frigid cold temperatures which are expected on the backside of the massive winter storm system.
“We’ve had numerous traffic signals that have turned in the wind that had to be reset,” Portsmouth City Services Director Chris Murphy said. “We’ve had numerous power outages that have affected lighted intersections. We had a signal at 12th and Chillicothe, by OSCO, that actually fell. The wind blew it to the point that it broke the strapping on it and it actually fell crashing to the street. Luckily nobody got hurt.”
Crews were in the process of replacing the light late Wednesday afternoon.
Murphy said it had been non-stop radio traffic at the service department where workers were continually being directed from one problem to another.
“I’m hoping that we are going to be lucky enough not to have widespread power outages, but about 5 percent of the power is off already,” Carver said. “I’m not too optimistic here.”
Crews spent the day chasing damage from high winds.
“We have been kept busy for the last several hours,” Murphy said. “We’ve had tree limbs and trees fall that we have had to go out and clean up.”
The same was true in all parts of Scioto County.
“It has been keeping everybody very busy,” Carver said. “A lot of tree removal and cleanup going on. Most of the fire departments are active today. And, of course, the road crews haven’t got much done but that today.”
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman told the Times his crew started early.
“We had to call a few in early this morning even to get the few trees off the road that had already started falling,” Opperman said. “They have spent the rest of the day cleaning out around pipes where we got a bunch of leaves out of the ditches. They’re going out and cleaning leaves and branches and debris out from around the culverts today, and trying to keep up with all the trees as they fall, and we haven’t had a problem there, but we’ve had quite a few of those fall down already today.”
Carver said EMA was still assessing the damage which continued to occur late into the afternoon.
“We’re seeing structural damage as far as roofing materials, some signage, and there have actually been power poles blown down,” Carver said.
AEP reports one of the most common causes of outages during high-wind events is tree contacts with power lines and equipment. One tree limb can knock out electric service to hundreds or even thousands of customers. Trees also can delay restoration of service that has been interrupted.
If power outages do occur, customers in Ohio should call the company’s toll-free number at (800) 672-2231 or (800) 277-217.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232