‘It’s a very slow process,’ Mountaineer Gas official talks causes, restoral timeline for West Side customers
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - It has been five nights without Mountaineer Gas Service for many of their customers on Charleston’s West Side.
The company’s Senior Vice President, Moses Skaff said upward of 1,100 customers were without service when the outage was first reported Friday but said some customers had service restored Tuesday.
“Once we investigated the situation, we found out that a water main had a high-pressure water line had broken and forced itself into our steel mainline, flooding our system, the system I’m talking about is 46 miles of gas service lines going through the community,” Skaff said.
“I’ve been working for Mountaineer Gas for over 32 years; I’ve never seen a magnitude of water that’s gone through a system of this nature, and for as extensive as 46 miles of gas service lines.”
Monday, West Virginia American Water told WSAZ there was a water main break on Friday on the West Side that was repaired early Saturday morning.
Tuesday, WSAZ’s Kimberly Donahue asked a spokesperson for the company if that water main break was what infiltrated the gas lines.
The spokesperson said in a text, “I’m unable to provide comment regarding assumptions or speculation on how the gas outage may have occurred.”
Skaff said more than 100 Mountaineer Gas employees and gas customers had been working across the West Side since the outage was first reported to get service restored.
He said the crews have been working to thoroughly remove the water from the lines first by purging water from main lines, then street lines, then service lines that go into customer homes and businesses.
“Once we have done that, and clean the lines, then we will then be able to go door-to-door to the customer’s homes and the businesses to inspect their internal lines,” he explained.
Skaff said he is anticipating the full restoration of the service in the pipeline to occur within the next seven days.
“I know that’s a very slow process and that’s not what the customers want to hear but our main objective is to provide safe reliable services to the customers and the most efficient way possible,” he said. “The only way we can do that is literally going door-to-door and ensuring that the households are safe.”
Jennifer Fuller is one customer without service who turned to donations at West Virginia Health Right to help heat her home.
“It’s been really cold, we just got our heat turned on for the winter and two days later, we didn’t know what the heck was going on,” she said.
Skaff also commented on concerns customers have shared with WSAZ about limited communication from Mountaineer Gas.
“We were unable to contact customer by customer because our system for signing up for customers does not require an email system. The phone number banks that we have, our system is not capable of reaching out to each individual customer, because some of our customers are rental customers, et cetera but we are going to try to rectify that in the future,” he said. “At this point in time, we have given all of our customer information to the city, and we are doing what they call reverse 911 calls to those people that have phone numbers and text messages that did happen [Tuesday] afternoon.
Fuller said it’s the kindness of others that is helping her get through the outage.
“What else can you do?” she asked. “I walk in here everyone’s laughing and smiling. It’s just community, stay with your family, stay with your friends.”
Mountaineer Gas emphasizes that customers should not turn on their gas without a company representative or authorized representative from the company.
The city of Charleston created a web page with resources for those affected by the outage.
West Virginia Health Right will be taking donations daily at two drop-off locations: 1615 Kanawha Boulevard West from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 515 Central Avenue from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Donations will be distributed and hot food will also be served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily at the Central Avenue location.
Copyright 2023 WSAZ. All rights reserved.