6/27/2014 4:46 PM
by Karen Franklin
BECKLEY - The derecho swept through southern West Virginia almost two years ago to this day.
“You can ask anyone who was here,” said Jeri Matheney with Appalachian Power. “It's a storm that everyone remembers where they were and what the experience was like for them. It was that memorable.”
The storm killed three people and left 680,000 without power for days.
“It had been a clear day up until that point, and then everything started blowing in so fast,” Beckley firefighter Chris Lanna told WOAY. “We had trees down and just all sorts of carnage going on everywhere, trees down, power lines down all throughout the city.”
Lanna is a 10-year veteran of the Beckley Fire Department. He and others working that shift responded to more than 100 calls in three days.
“We always try to stay ahead of the game, but that was just something that nobody could have predicted,” Matheney said. “There was just so much that went on in such a short period of time.”
Jerry Stump works with Beckley Public Works.
“When those things happen, you just have to deal with whatever happens because there's nothing you can really do about it,” Stump said.
Representatives with Appalachian Power said the company replaced 1,800 poles, 300 miles of line and more than 100 transmission lines after the storm.
“We would have to have tree crews work for 15 minutes and then a different crew would take over and work for 15 minutes,” Matheney said. “It was that hot.”
Since the storm, an effort to trim trees more regularly, known as the Vegetation Management Program, was passed by the state Public Service Commission.
It was a storm many hope they won't have to see again.
“If you were able to get off work from here -- because we did a lot of overtime and call backs -- you'd have to go back to your own house and take care of things there and worry about your own families,” Lanna said.
Appalachian Power told WOAY it learned about the power of the web following the windstorm. Customers can report outages and view restoration progress on www.appalachianpower.com.