Finding ways to supply water to residents is Barbour County's main concern, officials told Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Tuesday when he stopped by to assess damages resulting for the June 29 storm.
"The power is coming back on pretty steadily and, hopefully, by the end of the weekend we should have it back on state wide," Tomblin said Tuesday during the visit.
Tomblin has been touring the state to determine residents' needs and provide assistance where he can.
A boil-water advisory is in effect in Barbour County for those who had lost water and then had it restored.
"Basically, right now, water is our thing," Barbour County Commission President Phil Hart said.
Curtis Ellamore, chief of operations at Norton-Harding-Jimtown Public Service District, said water ran out at 5:30 a.m. Monday for customers in Norton, Junior and Tygart Valley Regional Jail. Although the PSD received a generator from Philippi on Monday to help power the plant, Hart said Tuesday "they are at very, very critical level."
Junior City Clerk Susan Strawder said as of approximately 1 p.m. Monday, the town of Junior had 9 feet of water remaining in its tank.
The city of Philippi supplies about 85 percent to 87 percent of county residents' water, Hart said. The city's tanks were being refilled Tuesday.
"Our power is back on. Philippi provides the power, so all of our customers are back on, and the water plant's up and running. I think all of our tanks are just about full now," Philippi City Manager Karen N. Weaver told Tomblin.
Hart said about 30 percent of the county was without electricity and water service Tuesday, and about 20 percent of residents didn't have phone service.
Hart explained that there are short- and long-term solutions to the current water issues in the county. The short-term solution involves public service districts located within feet of the city of Belington's water facility.
"They have a generator. They've been producing water full capacity the whole time. If there was a way we could connect into those other lines, they could supply water," Hart said.
Weaver said Philippi could then supply Belington with water, and vice versa.
"Especially in an emergency situation, it doesn't make any sense that there shouldn't be some way to provide water from one system to the other," Tomblin said.
Hart said that the long-term fix would be to build a damn at the reservoir. The design for the $6 million project is ready, and all that is needed is funding, he said.
"Our concern here is our water is drawn from the Tygart River. Once this is over, we're going right into another disaster because that river is at a critical level," Hart said.
Tomblin said he noticed "it was way down" when he flew over in a helicopter.
Weaver said the city of Philippi is building a new water treatment plant that will be online in March. It, like Belington's water treatment plant, will have a generator.
However, she explained that since water levels in the river typically drop in August another solution is needed for supply.
"If we do not have water in the river, it's not going to help either plant. The long-term goal is to have an alternate source," Weaver said, adding that the city usually starts monitoring the river in August because it gets low, but has never run out. The city of Philippi supplies water to all the nearby public service districts.
"We're right now where we're typically at in August," Weaver said.
In order to get assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Barbour County needs to be within a certain threshold of damages or need.
However, it is uncertain whether the county meets that criteria.
"We've come a long way, we've still got quite a bit of work to do," Tomblin said.
Cindy Hart, Barbour County Office of Emergency Management interim director, also addressed problems with downed trees along some Barbour County roads. Tomblin immediately called a representative who said he could get a crew to help with the trees as soon as Cindy Hart could send an email list of the locations.