Last Friday, we headed to PA to help celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. We have always been very close to them so it was a really great time…once we got there.
We left about 3 hours later than I had planned. It’s a 6-7 hour drive so that makes a big difference. Anyhow, about an hour into the trip, my mom called and asked if we were alright. I thought she was nuts but she told me that they were watching the Weather Channel (as all good worried parents tend to do) and that there was a terrible storm in WV. I told her we would be fine and all that. Not ten minutes later the sky became black like I haven’t seen in a long time and it became scary windy. We slowed down to a crawl and kept going. There was no use stopping…WV is pretty un-populated and any place that did have shelter was already without electricity…almost instantly.
So we drove through it from Flatwoods, WV to Waynesburg, PA…around 110 miles. It was only really bad for about 50 miles but it was really really bad in that stretch. North of Pittsburgh, it cleared out and we could see stars.
Anyhow, fast forward to our return trip on Sunday. We had been warned to get gas before we got to Charleston so we figured we would get it in PA and then try again about 70 miles outside out Charleston. It turns out that the electric was out from about 100 miles outside of Charleston so there was little gas to be had. We saw some folks who were obviously travelling, just sitting at gas stations presumably waiting for electric to come on so they could fill up and continue their trip.
Luckily, we had plenty of gas because when we got to Charleston, there were lines at the few stations that had both electricity and gas. People were fighting apparently which is not surprising considering some folks were waiting 2 hours for gas in 95-100 degree humid temps. When we arrived home, we found no electricity and some large branches down. Our neighbor had a larger tree come down which brought down a pole and lines. They had the lines propped up with a 2×4 to allow them to get in and out of the house. Lots of people were without water as well as power which made this deal pretty serious for a lot of people.
All-in-all, we are pretty lucky. We still do not have power and may not until Sunday or Monday. Still, we have no damage and are able to stay at Emily’s parents’ house who do have power. I definitely feel bad for folks across the state, though, who have no such escape. Fifty-three of the fifty-five counties in the state have damage and are under a state of emergency (I think that’s what they call it…whatever the technical term is). West Virginians are great folks though and will weather this literal storm just fine…a little more aware of how much we depend on the electric and water.
EDIT: I wrote this a day or so ago before we got power back. Thursday at 4 pm our power was returned so are mostly back to normal aside from cleaning up debris
EDIT: Here is a cool flickr feed of some pics taken by the power company