RANSON — Many residents throughout Jefferson County remain without power in the wake of a fierce storm that blew through the region late Friday night that ripped up old trees and downed power lines.
Shari Jordan, who lives on First Avenue in Charles Town, was out Saturday morning assisting with a cleanup effort after a large tree came down across the street, crushing a parked pickup truck.
“I was literally praying because of the tree behind our house,” Jordan said of an 88-year-old pecan tree in her backyard.
According to Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Barbara Miller, some buildings were damaged in the storm, including the one that houses the County Commission’s offices, the roof of which blew off.
Jordan said power to her house was restored at 9 a.m.
Not so for many other customers. Several businesses remained closed Saturday morning, some posting signs that they had closed for lack of electricity.
Potomac Edison has released a statement that indicates many West Virginia customers could be in for a long wait before power is restored.
“While the company is working to restore power to customers as soon as possible, prelimary estimated restoration times indicate it could be a week before the hardest hit areas — particularly parts of West Virginia — are fully restored,” according to a statement on the company’s website.
The company estimates more than half a million mid-Atlantic customers were affected by Friday’s storms. About 111,000 First Energy customers were without power as of 10 a.m. Saturday.
Barbara Miller, Jefferson County’s Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said residents without power can take shelter from the heat at three locations in the county.
Shelters for people only have been set up at both Jefferson and Washington high schools, while a shelter for people wishing to bring their pets with them has been set up at Wildwood Middle School. Miller said people who bring their animals with them to Wildwood must bring everything the pet would need for its care and must also stay with their animals.
Miller also warned residents about the dangers of clearing debris from around their properties.
“If people see lines they need to stay away from them,” Miller said. “If they are cutting trees they need to make sure there are no lines in the trees. They need to get away and call the 9-1-1 to get on the list.”
Miller said power disruptions have maxed out the power company’s ability to respond and residents should be patient.
The National Weather Service is reporting more severe storms could come through the region by 2 p.m. today and again tonight. Temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees today.