WSAZ | West Virginia, Kentucky, & Ohio | Weather

SEVERE WEATHER: Storm Damages Region

By: The Associated Press; WSAZ News Staff Randy Yohe Email
By: The Associated Press; WSAZ News Staff Randy Yohe Email

UPDATE 2/28/11 @ 6:30 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For many people it was not the flooding, but the winds that created all the problems Monday.

Some neighborhoods are still cleaning up after some brief but powerful winds blew through the region.

The storm even led to Walmart along Corridor G in South Charleston to close for several hours.

The high winds tore loose five heating and air conditioning units on the store's roof and caused a natural gas leak inside the building, officials from the South Charleston Fire Department say.

The store was evacuated just before 9 a.m. Monday.

The fire department responded to the scene and evacuated the store until crews could test the levels inside the store.

"It's very dangerous when you have a major gas leak like that, especially when you can't fine the source immediately," South Charleston Fire Capt. Virgil White says.

No one was hurt, and the store reopened around 3 p.m.

Metro 911 dispatchers say they have received nearly two dozen reports of storm damage, including two reports of tress that fell onto homes. However, they say the most significant damage occurred at the Walmart store at Southridge.

Not far from Walmart, Linda Austin says she heard a loud bang at her house and had a mess of her own to handle when she noticed a large tree had fallen on her roof.

"It's pretty bad. It's gone through the roof. It's gone into the attic. There's water coming into one of the bedrooms. There's water in the basement," Austin says.

Fallen trees were pretty common in Scott Depot, too. The winds even tipped a small boat on its side.

Paula Clem had planned to get her pine trees taken down Monday. That ended up happening, but it was the storm that did it.

“It seems like a long time, but I bet it happened in two to three minutes. It just took it all down," Clem says. She estimates about half a dozen tall trees were damaged.

Some landed on utility lines, knocking out power for much of her neighborhood.

Clem was among thousands of people who lost power across the region, according to utility companies. They estimate as many as 13,000 people across the state were without power at some point in the day. Most of the outages were in Kanawha, Lincoln, Wayne, and Putnam counties.

But, Clem says things could be worse.

"All of it could have gone right on the roof. So, we really lucked out," she says.



UPDATE 2/28/11 @ 5:30 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Along with high water, Monday's storms brought high winds and widespread damage throughout the region.

From broken power poles and downed lines, we're told a good share of the repair work will last through the night.

Straight-line winds, a mini-tornado and power gusting -- those are some of the unofficial terms heard today from homeowners without power and very busy tree cutters and power repair crews.

One of the storm damage pinpoint areas was Ashland, as well as much of Boyd County.

Saying "(I'm) still in shock,” Sarah Nibert spoke for her still shaken grandmother Mary Allen, who was alone in her south side Ashland home just after 7 a.m. That’s when destructive winds and rains turned grandma's TV room into a big pile of twisted rubble.

“They said it was a mini-tornado," Nibert said. "That's the room she spends 95 percent of her time in, but thank God she was still in bed when it hit.”

About the same time, a few blocks away, there was a scene we found frequently repeated. The storm downed trees, which fell on utility lines, which snapped numerous power poles -- leaving dozens in the dark.

Two of those broken poles were in the front yard of Cy Reynolds, who's a recovering stroke victim and hard of hearing.

“I guess it did some damage; I didn't hear a thing," Reynolds said. "Was there a storm? Did it hit hard?”

Many utility pole insulators were on the ground. They keep electricity from going down the pole. So, when they are not in use, the wires are live, and the danger increases.

AEP also has to guard against worker slips, trips and falls, ensure the public safety and do traffic detail.

In some places, AEP-Kentucky Power trucks and crews could get to the destruction easily.

But in rough terrain areas like Bonanza Estates, crews used a yard dog -- a device that goes where trucks can't. The yard dog brings in poles and winches up transformers with minimal damage to customers’ property.

No yard dog was needed at Mary Allen's home where the mangled TV room was actually occupied when the storm hit -- by Mary's poodle, Shelby. Although shaken, the pet got out safely.

Right after the morning storm, AEP-Kentucky Power crews started answering nearly 50 calls -- just in the FIVCO area.

There were many more damage calls heading south in the Big Sandy Valley down to Pike County.

We talked to several homeowners with car ports, porches and underpinnings ripped away or wrapped around whatever was more stable.



UPDATE 2/28/11 @ 11:30 a.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Walmart in South Charleston re-opened Monday afternoon after high winds damaged the store's roof and caused a natural gas leak.

The store was evacuated just before 9 a.m. Monday.

The South Charleston Shift Commander tells WSAZ.com the high winds tore loose five heating and air conditioning units on the store's roof and caused a natural gas leak inside the building.

The fire department responded to the scene and evacuated the store until crews could test the levels inside the store.

During this storm, The National Weather Service clocked winds at 64 miles per hour at Yeager Airport.

According to a news release, minor damage was reported across Kanawha County. The Kanawha County Emergency management Director tells WSAZ.com most of the damage amounts to trees and lines down.

911 dispatchers say they have received nearly two dozen reports of storm damage, including two reports of tress that fell onto homes. However, the most significant damage occurred at the Walmart store at Southridge, according to Dale Petry.

No one was hurt, but the store's roof was damaged.

The manager tells WSAZ.com employees are back in the building cleaning up because some water got inside the store.

We're told the store will re-open around 2:45 p.m. Monday.

As of 11:30 a.m., American Electric Power reports 3,338 customers are without power. Crews are out working to restore power to these customers, as well as people in other counties.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest information.



UPDATE 2/28/11@9:35a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Heavy rains and high winds have left more than 10,000 customers without electricity in West Virginia.

Appalachian Power reports 10,420 outages on its website. Most are in Lincoln, Putnam and Wayne counties.

In Ohio County, American Electric Power reports 710 outages.

More than 150 Allegheny Power customers are without electricity in north-central West Virginia.

The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches for much of the state, including the southern coalfields, counties along the Ohio River, the Eastern Panhandle and north-central West Virginia.

Cities in the watch area include Charleston, Huntington, Fairmont, Logan, Martinsburg, Morgantown and Clarksburg.



UPDATE 2/28/11@8:30a.m.
BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Emergency crews are responding to numerous reports of downed trees and power lines in Ashland and Boyd County.

Firefighters say the roof was blown off of an enclosed sun room at a house in the 1300 block of Beech Street Monday morning.

The owner of the house was home and not hurt. The collapse was reported around 8 a.m. Monday


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UPDATE 2/28/11@ 7:30a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ)-- The National Weather Service has cancelled a tornado warning for Athens and Meigs Counties in Ohio.


UPDATE 2/28/11 @ 1:00 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Much of West Virginia is under a flood watch through Monday night.

The National Weather Service says up to 1.5 inches of rain is possible starting Sunday night. With the ground already saturated in many areas, that brings the possibility of flooding.

The watch area includes cities such as Charleston, Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Huntington, Logan, Morgantown, Parkersburg and Williamson.



UPDATE 2/27/11 @ 5:30 p.m.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A weather system carrying heavy rains, hail, high winds and possible tornadoes is expected to move across Kentucky.

The National Weather Service put 17 counties, mostly in southern and south-central Kentucky, under a tornado watch until 10 p.m. Sunday.

Kentucky Emergency Management and officials at the National Weather Service issued warnings Sunday to prepare for the storm, which was expected to move into the western part of the state Sunday evening and move northeast across Kentucky on Monday.

Buddy Rogers, a spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management, said the storm moving in overnight could prove the greatest hazard, with people unaware of warnings.

Rogers says the highest risk is west of Interstate 65, but flood watches and other warnings are likely to be issued as the storm moves east.



ORIGINAL STORY 2/27/11 4 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Much of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio are under a flood watch through Monday night.

The National Weather Service says up to 1.5 inches of rain is possible starting Sunday night. With the ground already saturated in many areas, that brings the possibility of flooding.

The watch area in West Virginia includes cities such as Charleston, Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Huntington, Logan, Morgantown, Parkersburg and Williamson.

WSAZ Meteorologists say this weather system will affect the entire region.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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