Deadly Derecho in West Virginia – 11 Days without Power
June 29th, 2012. I just so happen to be on the internet when I read of the storm coming though Ohio, reading tweets live as it came closer toward West Virginia. I knew from all the attention this storm was starting to get that it wasn’t going to be a normal June thunderstorm. As the storm grew closer I shut down my computer, assuming the power may be out for a short while, but I had no idea this storm’s damage would be so intense that we’d be without power for 11 Days, nor did we know it wasn’t the end of these kind of storms.
I ran downstairs as the wind starting hitting the house and headed outside to pull in the plants so they wouldn’t get blown away; that was a mistake, because the storm was already here and you could hardly hear it. I went to open the screen door and it felt as if it were stuck and I pushed, it felt like 20+ pounds of pressure. At this point I didn’t understand, because there was no rain or sound at all. Once I took a step out the door I could feel being pulled as if I were in the ocean and I’m being pulled by an undertow, I then looked up and saw the sky was a blur of branches, tree limbs and debris, but oddly enough the storm had no sound whatsoever. So naturally I freaked out thinking it was a tornado, (better safe than sorry). I remember shouting, “it’s a tornado, it’s a tornado” as we headed for the basement.
The storm lasted about 20-30 minutes, the wind was first, then the hard rain and hail. I walked upstairs and saw out the window a sparking telephone pole in the yard, still live and sparking very bright lights like fireworks. I called 911 to tell them about the live wire in the road and the cell towers were down…. hearing “sorry your number cannot be completed as dialed” when you dial 911 is a scary feeling; what if I or someone else was in serious need. It’s an awful feeling, then you realize how much you take for granted having 911 being there at your fingertips when you dial 911 and get nothing over and over.
I walked outside, as did the rest of the neighborhood to check out the damage. Half of the area had power, but our side was out in a number of ways. They were trees hitting lines everywhere, trees in homes, on businesses, trying to imagine the damage at this point seemed almost impossible.
On the lighter side of things, I did notice that the apple tree that fell on our house didn’t smash the Gnome I had under it, in fact it just missed it; lucky Gnome, he must have had it all figured out. I’ll include the photo on here with a close up. The neighbors were sad to see the apple tree go, it apparently had been around for generations.
I called my family in Beckley as the storm was heading their way to warn them; it knocked trees down there, not as bad as Charleston, but it knocked thousands of people’s power out for days as well. It was getting dark and the video clips I took with my photo camera were hard to see without light, so just before I went inside I noticed the brightest pinkish-red sky that you ever saw and I remembered the saying “Pink sky at night, sailors delight,” which if it was right means the day will be clear tomorrow.
Day 1. No Power. Woke up bright and early on my own, due to the bright sunrise in my eyes. I took my camera out and walked the neighborhood to see the damage, on this page I’ve included a few of those photos. Roads were blocked, not a sound was being made anywhere. Almost felt apocalyptic. Slowly I started seeing others come outside and we talked as if we knew each other about the storm. You wouldn’t imagine how many people I made friends with in my own area that I didn’t know before this storm. The heat started getting to you about 2pm and we thought we’d find a hotel, but every place was booked from 70 miles north and 70 miles south of us, which was quite scary. No hotels vacant in WV, east KY, OHIO… I can keep going and it’s going to be 100 degrees tomorrow. It’s going to be hard for a few days folks.
We did get to watch FOX and see the Governor of West Virginia’s interview about the storm damage, (which I included in the film below). Time to tough it out and go back home to the heat. The power would happen to go out at just the rare time that it was 101 degree heat, a heat wave, really? I figured this is what we get for having such a light Winter, Mother Nature payback.
Update: 6/30/2012, 11:30 p.m.
GOVERNOR EARL RAY TOMBLIN DECLARES STATEWIDE STATE OF EMERGENCY
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced tonight that he has declared a state of emergency for the entire state of West Virginia in the wake of this evening’s powerful storms. The storms have left an estimated 500,000 people without power as a result of outages in at least 27 counties. The statewide emergency declaration will allow all government resources to be devoted immediately to helping those in need and restoring power as soon as possible.
“The damage from today’s storms is widespread and in many places severe,” said Gov. Tomblin. “With temperatures near 100 degrees expected this weekend, it’s critical that we get people’s power back on as soon as possible. We’re committing 100% of our state’s resources for as long as we need to get this cleaned up.”
West Virginians without power should stay as cool as possible and drink plenty of water. The elderly and others susceptible to extreme heat should consider moving to an air conditioned location or seeking help if they feel that their health is threatened. All West Virginians are urged to check in on friends and neighbors who may need assistance, and to call 911 in the event of emergency. - governor.wv.gov
Day 2. No Power. I’ve never seen such madness, people fighting over food, ice, gas, generators . . . well anything people need, they’re going nuts to get it. Even thought there isn’t a gas shortage, gas is sold out everywhere and lines are hours long. The stories I’ve heard about people waiting for hours to get turned away after selling out is just too much. If you don’t absolutely NEED anything, you should just stay home and calm down people. Talk about taking everyone out of their comfort zone. All this and it’s not even noon yet, it’s going to be a long week.
Cleaned liked like crazy, felt like I was Amish. Our water started tasting like bleach today, not sure what to think, I would guess its them adding more chemicals to kill bacteria. I didn’t drink it.
Today was the day I realized how thankful I am for what I do have, tried get over the heat and enjoy the day with my sweetie. Another storm came through, but it was off in the distance, only saw lighting for hours.
Day 3. No Power. The roads are still closed, looks like the storm just happened. Hoping to hurry up and get this all behind us, at least we have a home to sleep in and running water. I heard several people had their water turned off, some type of contamination issues.
The heels of my feet look and feel awful, this gross photo (sorry folks) is what happens while walking miles in the extreme heat, who knew. I leaned the storm was called a “Derecho,” meaning it was a land hurricane, which supposedly is a pretty rare thing. The mixture of extreme heat and high humidity makes for an awful storm or I should say storms . . .
My only link to the outside world was my cell phone, and what limited access it has on the net. I learned the movie theater got power and we were one of only a few people there, went to see TED. Pretty good movie, but it does have some raunchy humor.
Enjoyed the breeze during the full moon with all the windows open and everything silent was very peaceful.
Random thoughts before bed: I was wondering, if there was this much chaos from a wind storm, still without power on Day 4, then I’m not looking forward to the crazies on Dec 21st, 2012. I tweeted a lot during this outage, mostly to help me remember this story.
At this moment, I realized how much I automatically want to sleep at sundown and up at sunrise, pretty funny to me because I usually have a hard time sleeping and don’t get to sleep until 4-5am but I slept like a baby, except it was hot.
Day 4. No Power. Boiling in the unbearable heat in the house while I watch the cleanup crew hack away at the trees blocking the road. They’ve called in help from other states to help out with several things, including debris. Happy to be one step closer to having power again.
We went last night and got some ICE at Krogers. That’s the secret, I guess I can say it now. In the morning and middle of the day, people were almost fighting over the ICE, not just at Krogers, almost anywhere that sold it. We weren’t looking for ICE that night but found a truck comes in at night with ICE and there was hardly anyone there to know until morning. Score. So we bought a small cooler and made a mini fridge for drinks.
On the way home we saw fireworks in the sky and didn’t realize Charleston was having fireworks on July 3rd instead of the 4th, which is fine but I just didn’t know. So I didn’t get the best spot, but I did manage to film a few clips of the fireworks and lighting going on at the same time, that was a first for me. I thought have thought it was a no go for safety concerns, but I guess because it had been a rough couple days they thought, screw it. Check out the video below.
Day 5. No Power. After helping several times outside, working in the brush in the road, I now have a bad case of poison ivy on my left leg. Woke up in the middle of the night from the heat and itchy-ness and stomped on my glasses, pretty much demolished them, what a way to start out the day. You have to laugh to keep from crying, haha. Oh yeah, Happy Independence Day.
Determined to have a good 4th of July during this 104 degree weather today, I decided I wanted to go see the new Spider-Man movie that just came out today. So I broke out the super glue and McGyvered the metal strip from a bread bag tie to put my glasses back together again to go see a movie. Keep in mind a large percentage of stores are still without power including Wal-Mart, so it’s useless to try and get them repaired or buy new ones while there are bigger problems in the air. So I got them fixed up and enjoyed a movie in air conditioning, which was a nice break from the heat. And on a movie note: it was better than expected. It’s worth going to the movies to see for sure. I’ve seen most of everything out already at the theater, so Spider-Man came out just in time; in other words I would have just gone to see a movie I’d already seen just to get out of the heat. Prometheus was good, I’d see that twice.
At night it was so hot, so humid that I had to get creative to cool the puppy. I took cold water and wet a towel and put it on the bed for the puppy to get cool and rest; it worked perfectly, she was in heaven.
My camera battery was starting to go dead, so I couldn’t get many photos after today. Ugh.
Day 6. No Power. “Bad storm is coming through AGAIN, hoping it’s not bad, people are loosing it as it is already.” The storm hit, lots of wind and lots of rain this time around. A large limb fell onto the street where it was recently just cleared and a stranger with a chainsaw just hacked away at the limb and cleared the debris from the road, DURING THE STORM, but either way, thanks stranger, what a nice guy.
The storm wasn’t as bad as the last time around, but Beckley got it pretty bad this time. I kept hearing rumors of a funnel cloud touching down but I never saw any photos. I bought a cell charger (iGO) that uses AA batteries the other day. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have had any communication with the world. I feel horrible for everyone who had it even worse than me, I’m even close to civilization, as apposed to so many people who were out in the middle of nowhere without power or even water as well.
After the storm, we went to Target, just to get into some air conditioning; the store had just re-opened and it was a mad house. Everything was empty and people where everywhere. We went to the frozen section and saw the “power is out signs”, which I got a photo of it to remind me of the trip. It had a very eerie feeling to it, most stores did, very surreal and depressing, panic filled isles, things weren’t back to normal yet.
Day 7. No Power. Woke up hearing the power company near our street, which was an amazing feeling, but it wasn’t going to be that easy. Hours went by and I knew part of the neighborhood must have gotten power, because you could hear the alarms going off in peoples homes. As the Power company packed up (with my power still off), I started to walk down to ask them when I noticed a nearby tree smoking, sparking, and catching fire at the top of a tree the line was laying on. I went to the workers and told them. Two guys came up to my side yard to see what I was talking about, one told me it was nothing and it would stop… and the other guy looked on in awe, but you could tell the guy talking to me was his boss. (They were from out of state, can’t remember where.) So whatever, I thought. They drove off, I still had no power, then you hear more sparking and flames and I thought well, they told me it was ok, so I stepped in to grab my camera. Then you hear a loud BANG, sounded like thunder and a gunshot together, so I ran outside and all was silent again, so I figured it blew a fuse or whatever. I called and a fire truck came out to check if it was ok, then saw the power was knocked out again, so that was that.
As I was watching the police roam the streets, I was reading about all the robberies from the people leaving their homes in the area. That didn’t help anything, the fact that it was happening, or that I knew about it. Things were stressful enough, but I just knew to hang in there, it would all be over before I knew it. Like many others in the area we were eyes-wide and up at all hours of the night listening and watching like a hawk.
So hours went by and hope was restored, the power company was back in the area. These guys were from Texas and they were super friendly and this time, they finally got over to my street. So after day and days of waiting, we had power again. The photo above is the guys from Texas in our yard. Thank you. Went out and celebrated for getting power back, had a nice dinner with my sweetie.
Day 8. Waking up to Power. Things still weren’t all the way back to normal yet. It was so wonderful to have AC again, and to have a cold drink waiting for you in the fridge. The things we take for granted is astounding to say the least. People must take some more time to be thankful for all they have, even the little things.
After all those days without power I had no idea what to do once I had it. The internet wasn’t back on yet, but I wasn’t complaining, I’m just glad to not to be pouring sweat just sitting in my own house. So what did I do? I watched DVDs I had forgotten about, played games I hadn’t played in a while. So I played “Plants vs. Zombies” and watched Beverly Hills Cop 1, 2, and 3, back to back ROFL. Then went to see the movie Savages, which was a crazy movie.
Along the way I read about an upcoming storm, supposed to be as bad as before, well crap. So I decided to gamble and go get ICE, more batteries, food, and gas while it’s easy to get. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Day 9. Power was good while it lasted. The second BIG storm hit the area, with more rain than before, and just as much wind, but I thought there wasn’t much left to fall. I was wrong, there was more to fall, a huge branch fell onto the road bringing the power lines with it, this time around knocking power out in a much bigger area. I went out to see the damage, and took a walk around the neighborhood again and it looked like the Derecho all over again, with huge trees knocked down all over, onto more homes and businesses.
It was worse this time around because all of MacCorkle Ave was without power, the street lights, and every home and business as far as you could see were out. Then the sun set and things were worse, we thought it would be a good idea to drive down a few blocks and see the damage and possibly get a bite to eat, which was the wrong thing to do. People weren’t stopping at the intersections at all, in fact people were flooring it though, we almost got T-Boned a number of times by driving safe. It was horrific and quite odd to see a main street with no lights as far as you could see, just chaos. I don’t care to see that ever again.
Day 10. No Power. Walking around looking at the new damage again. More photos below and video as well. In times like these you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The positive news is that on AEP’s website it shows our area is down significantly in outages, so it should be no time at all. Even though we were out of power at the moment, we at least had a break from the heat for about 36 hours or so. #Humbled
Day 11. Power. 6 Power trucks and 6 Suddenlink trucks can’t be wrong. Spent most of the day writing scripts and reading in front of a mini battery-powered fan. Everything is back up and running now, just time to try and get things back to normal and upload some photos and videos.
In the video below you’ll see the storms, the damage and more of this story. Most everything should be posted on this page somewhere, enjoy. Hope you’ve enjoyed my Derecho experience, thanks for reading. Remember, be thankful everyday for all that you have, because you’ll never know when it could be taken away from you.
OVERALL SUMMERY AND VIDEOS.
Out of 11 Days, we had around 36 hours worth of power. This video is of the storm and aftermath for 11 Days in Kanawha City. Temperatures reached up to 104 degrees during the heat wave. We were in the city and it took 7 days to get power, I can’t imagine how others felt out of town. I’m thankful for getting through it all in one piece. I may have got poison ivy and broken my glasses, but that’s nothing compared to some of the damage I’ve seen. Hope all is well. PS: If you go watch this on the YouTube page, it will have more info to read and shortcuts to events in the video and links to other Derecho videos in West Virginia.
June 29 — Severe Summer Storm — West Virginia
Update: 10:00 AM, 7/13/2012
Appalachian Power is dealing with significant weather-related outages across its West Virginia and Virginia service areas. STORM WEATHER PERSPECTIVE Friday night’s storm was part of a massive straight line wind storm that traveled close to 700 miles in 10 hours, devastating 10 states and leaving more than 4.3 million customers without electric service throughout the United States. Company and state officials are characterizing the storm as similar to or even greater than a hurricane, but without advance warning. The storm produced winds in excess of 75 miles-per-hour and heavy rain across a large portion of Appalachian Power’s service territory. – AEP
A land hurricane known as a “Derecho” hit several states on the east coast. This is video from my photo camera, documenting the damage and power outages during the heat wave in Kanawha City, Charleston, WV. This video shows some of the first storm in action, damage in the area and video of the second big storm around a week later. This video was taken over a duration of 11 days. Thanks to everyone that helped out in this storm to get things back to normal.
The storm started Friday, June 29th 2012 which left thousands of people without power in West Virginia. It knocked several big trees over, snapping the tops off and even pulling them up from the roots. (06:34) Temperatures rose to a high of 104 degrees. Many people rushed to get gas, food, ice, and other necessities. There were only a few places to find a hot meal anywhere, hotels were sold out almost state-wide, and surrounding states had similar problems. Several workers, neighbors, and helpful strangers helped get us back on track. We saw lots of out of state workers sent to our area to help out AEP, which was great.
The second BIG storm hit Tuesday, July 10th, (08:25) which was only a day or so after we regained power from the previous storm over a week ago. The power was knocked out again, but this time help was already in the area. The whole ordeal lasted 11 Days, which is what you’ll see in this video. Thanks for watching.
Video Timeline of Events:
00:00 – 01:26 – During and right after the storm, power is out for thousands.
Day 1 – 01:26 – Damage in area, traffic and lines at gas pumps, apple tree
Day 1 – 02:51 – CNN Interview with Gov. EARL RAY TOMBLIN
Day 2 – 06:17 – Dangerous lines and assessing damages, huge tree 06:34
Day 3 – 07:04 – 104 degrees, looking at more damage
Day 4 – 07:21 – Cleaning up damage, Krogers has ICE,
Day 4 – 07:44 – July 3rd Fireworks in lighting storm, Charleston, WV
Day 5 – 07:54 – Radio Announcement, Front page of Newspaper, 104 Degrees
Day 6 – 08:14 – Camera Battery Dead – Photo from Target Frozen section
Day 7 – 08:19 – Camera Battery Dead – Power Co from Texas turn on Power!
Day 8 – 08:23 – Camera Battery Dead – Enjoying the power on for a change.
Day 9 – 08:25 – Second BIG storm, damage afterwords, Power is out again….
Day 10 – 11:08 – No power, See Wendy’s sign is blown to bits
Day 11 – 11:15 – 6 Power Trucks and 6 Suddenlink Trucks couldn’t be wrong!
Thank You Note – 11:47
Other related videos of Derecho 2012:
A Minute with Jay: Storm Recovery:
Derecho Storm in Charleston, WV:
Braving the Derecho in Charleston, WV on June 29, 2012:
Ring of Fire Derecho:
Storm Wv 06/29/2012 Ravenswood Wv.:
Wind Storm in Huntington, WV 6/29/2012:
Derecho Storm Damage in Charleston, WV (Big Tree Fallen – My submitted footage)