Three of Philippi's utility services have been identified as the most hard-hit as the result of damages from the June 29 storm that left many residents across West Virginia without power, City Manager Karen Weaver told Council on Tuesday.
Weaver said cable, water and electric, all supplied by the city, were the areas where the most costly damages occurred.
She said estimated costs incurred were the cable system, $20,000; water, $32,000; and electric, $209,690. Weaver noted that one pump station at the water plant was struck by lightning. She explained that the costs include actual damages, labor and overtime hours.
"These are quick ball park figures that we put together," Weaver said.
She also said that luckily, the city had been trimming trees throughout the year, which possibly reduced the amount of damages that could be have been inflicted by the storm.
"We spend a lot of money on tree trimming, but that saved us a tremendous amount of damage," she said.
Because West Virginia has been declared a federal disaster for some time following the storm, some reimbursement funding may be available, but the state must first meet a certain federal threshold of damages before becoming eligible. Power companies, such as FirstEnergy, incurred much of the damages throughout the state; however, those do not qualify under the federal guidelines.
"So right now we're still putting together the numbers, and we're just waiting to see if we qualify. Then, of course, we can file to get some of those damages covered," Weaver said.
She explained that the state is still working to gather the figures to submit for federal funding. While it could get some money back for overtime, fuel and more, "it doesn't cover everything," she said.
The city has insurance covers some of the damaged equipment, she said.
"We've had some damages that are kind of unusual damages," Weaver said.
A snake had gotten into the main substation, where power comes in from Allegheny Power, causing substantial damage that has not yet been completely assessed, she explained.
"... and (the snake) literally fried himself and a piece of our equipment that will be a big dollar item," Weaver said.
The city was able to "go around" the damaged equipment temporarily to supply power, but Weaver said that was the reason Philippi's power went off again the following Sunday.
In addition, she said there has been storm-related damage is continuing with the loss of underground power at Rite Aid. The loss has to do with heat and the storms, Weaver said.
"Our guys have done an outstanding job," Councilman Terrence Boyd said regarding the emergency workers who helped during the storm.
Councilwoman Barbara Bryan suggested that the employees be invited to Council to be recognized for their hard work.
The Council also heard an update on the construction of the new city water plant. Bill Knight, chief water plant operator, provided a progress report saying the underground work is almost complete and the treatment plumbing inside is complete.
"It's pretty fascinating, all the work that they've done," Knight said.
Knight said that the construction has been going on for the past 11 months. The original projected completion date was September 2012, but Knight said that dated has changed to spring of 2013.
"It's moving along. It's not fast enough, but it's moving along," Knight said.
The construction contract allows workers to have rain days and weather impact days. Knight said that even if it rains one tenth of an inch, that qualifies as a weather impact day and workers get credit for that day. Those days have slowed production, he said.
"It just keeps adding days to the end of the contract," Knight said.
Also, Knight said that plant workers had considered using the new raw water intake immediately, but they were told that could "eat into our warranty." While a decision against using the intake had been made, Knight said he is now reconsidering that because of the project delay.
"I want to go ahead and utilize our new intake and raw water pumps before winter gets here," Knight said, adding "the winter months is our worst."
He said the increase in water usage in the winter may be caused by residents leaving their taps dripping or running to ensure that pipes don't freeze.
"I believe it will help tremendously in operation time this winter. When you've got 3,000 people letting their water run, that's a lot of water in one evening," Knight said.