Members of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce this week received updates from local members and learned about FirstEnergy's work in the aftermath of the severe June 29 derecho windstorm.
Charlie Friddle, director of external affairs at FirstEnergy, spoke about the storm that swept through the area and left 522,000 customers without power.
"Normally our company meterologists monitor storm movement in the area," Friddle said. "In this situation, we had no advance knowledge of the storm and were caught by surprise."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Elkins will feature new lighted wreaths, hanging baskets of holly, pine and jingle bells and other decorations this holiday season. Kathy Vance, chairwoman of the downtown Christmas decorating committee, shows Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce members some of the new decorations Wednesday.
Friddle said as soon as the storm was over, the company assessed storm damage and staged restoration efforts.
"First we restore power to the power plants; then transmission lines, substations, critical facilities; and then neighborhoods," he said. "This storm knocked three transmission towers to the ground and damaged one so severely, it could not be used."
Safety is the top priority anytime the company works to get power back to the customers, he added.
"This storm was the worst in the company's history," Friddle said. "In the 1985 flood, we replaced 600 poles - and this storm required 1,144 poles replaced."