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AEP worker describes recent winter storm as one of the worst

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 3:44 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - American Electric Power has brought in hundreds of additional workers to restore power as thousands remain in the dark following repeat winter storms.

This weekend, WSAZ caught up with a power crew clearing a path up a hill on South 19th Street West in Huntington in order to install some new poles.

For 11 days, AEP worker John Kennedy and his crew have been working on the daunting task of making repairs after mother nature did some serious damage.

“We’re farther along now then we were the other day,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says he has worked through hurricanes and ice storms but, the damage left behind last week doesn’t compare.

“You’ll see the outage report at night when its a certain number and you come back in the next day and its went up a thousand or two and then you realize it is the same stretch of line that you already got up the day before,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy tells WSAZ in 27 years he has never witnessed ice damage like what the tri-state is experiencing.

“The weight of the wire with all that ice on it - its like three times heavier than it normally would be,” said Kennedy.

Despite the dangerous conditions, Kennedy and his crew continue to chip away at the problem.

“When it’s dark and you are under these right ways and these trees are falling you don’t know how to react,” said Kennedy.

For these crews, safety is top priority. There are many hazards but live wires laying on the ground are one of the biggest because they can cause electric shocks or fires.

Kennedy says the worst part of the damage are the people affected by it.

“The little old lady was out of power just the other day,” Kennedy said.

He tells WSAZ.com he stayed awake thinking about the woman and so many more struggling without heat.

“So I went back the next day and got her electric on because she was crying and it bothered me and it bothered me and it kept me awake,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says the elderly are more vulnerable when left off the grid. Many do not have the resources to get a generator and spend the majority of their time alone.

Kennedy and other power crews all across the region have been working 16 hours days to aid the restoration effort. Many of those hours are spent working to restore power on hard to access roads were power poles had already been replaced but suffered damage when the second and third winter storm hit.

An AEP spokesperson says power has been restored to about 70 percent of customers and they say most outages should be fixed by Tuesday night.

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