On Friday evening, at approximately 7 p.m., as forecasted by local weather channels, the "snow storm of the decade" moved into the southern coalfields.
911 Emergency Director Greg Lay says that while most primary roads are clear, many secondary roads remain hazardously slick. Drivers are urged to use caution if heading out.
“Most of our roads are at least passable now. There is one-lane access across Bolt Mountain, but that remains hazardous,” Lay warns motorists.
According to Lay, as of Monday morning, there remained 7,000 homes in Boone County without power.
“The number of people without power has been fluctuating a lot. Sometimes when they turn the power on for some who have lost power, the power goes out for other people,” Lay explained.
According to Lay, crews from six other states have been called in to West Virginia and are helping out to bring power back to the region.
“We now have three shelters in place. The first is at the Madison-Danvilee Community Center at Lick Creek. The second is at the Salamay Building, in Whitesville, and the third is a Special Needs Shelter at Boone Memorial Hospital,” Lay said.
“The last people they had at the Lick Creek Center left last night,” Lay said, also noting that those who had sought temporary shelter at the Whitesville location were now returning home, as their homes located in the Racine and Comfort areas, got power back around 8 p.m. Sunday.
There still remains more than half of the county without power.
“Stay warm and if you’ve got generators, make sure not to run them inside. Also, do not put gasoline in kerosene heaters,” Lay advises those who remain in their homes without power.
According to news reporter Lawrence Keeney, Turtle Creek has been without power since Friday night at 6 p.m. and remains without power Monday afternoon.
Several of the residents from Turtle Creek have traveled to Charleston, where they are staying at hotels until the power is turned back on.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jeff Huffman, officials have indicated to the school system that they do not expect to have power back until later in the week.
“They’re telling a lot of people Christmas as a target date,” Huffman says.
Boone County Schools have six schools without power, which has prompted school closings on Monday and possibly Tuesday.
The schools experience power outages as of Monday afternoon are Ramage Elementary School, Jeffrey Elementary, Wharton Elementary, Ashford-Nellis Elementary, Sherman Junior High School, and Sherman High School.
The number of families without power is a huge concern for Huffman and Lay. “It is especially concerning with the amount of time they’re without power,” Huffman says.
“We are working with the Office of Emergency Services to make facilities available at Scott High School and Van High School field houses from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. this evening and tomorrow evening for people to shower and clean up,” Huffman said Monday afternoon.
“Mr. Bradley is also working to see if we have facilities in the Whitesville area with shower facilities available for people to use from 6 to 8 p.m. this evening and tomorrow evening,” Huffman said.
Emergency Management Officials say that shipments of propane gas and other supplies, such as salt and gasoline, are slowly starting to make their way back into the area.
“I know that the Danville area had run out of kerosene. Both 81 and the Turnpike were shut down and a lot of the supplies and fuel shipments weren’t able to make it in. But the Little General at Lincoln Avenue now has kerosene,” Lay explains.
According to Lay, the number of emergency calls more than quadrupled on Saturday, skyrocketing from an average of 250 calls a day to more than 1,000 calls Saturday night.
“The calls were reporting car accidents, trees down, and power outages in the area,” Lay says.
The county also experienced on fire this weekend during the wintry storm. “A mobile home caught fire yesterday,” Lay said. No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire.
When asked if the Boone County Emergency Services were prepared for the winter storm, Lay said, “We were as prepared as we could have been; I think a lot of people didn’t pay enough attention to the forecast; we knew this storm was coming.”
Again, school in Boone County has been cancelled for today, Tuesday, Dec. 22. For up-to-date road conditions, go to http://www.transportation.wv.gov.