GALLIA COUNTY — About 5,500 customers in Gallia County are still without power, according to American Electric Power and Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative.
As of 9 p.m. Monday, approximately 5,000 customers — or 50 percent — remained in the dark throughout the AEP Ohio service territory within Gallia County. AEP Ohio representatives, however, say that crews are working around the clock to get all the lights — and air conditioners — back on.
“Certainly your local crews are down there and working,” said Rachel Hammer with AEP. “It’s the same anywhere. The first thing we do is restore power to critical services. If there is a fire department or a police station, that is the first thing we look for. Then what we do is look at repairs we can make that will get the highest number of customers back on the most quickly. So, if there is a transmission service that we can repair that will put 100-200 customers back on, then that becomes our first priority. Then we work down from there.”
Hammer emphasized that this priority system is unfolding within each county — not from a statewide approach.
“This is for each individual area,” said Hammer. “We aren’t taking folks from Gallipolis to Columbus. Those that work in Gallipolis are still in Gallipolis.”
Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative (BREC) Manager of Member Services Bryan Long said BREC made significant progress Monday.
“We got a lot of people back on today,” said Long. “A lot of the substations were energized and many transmission lines were fixed. What we are dealing with right now is handling all the customers that we found to still be without power after those substations were energized.”
Long estimated that as of late Sunday night, approximately 500 customers — or 8.3 percent — were still without power in Gallia County, although some of those customers regained electricity on Monday.
Hammer said that during the peak of the storm damage in the state of Ohio, 660,000 customers were out of power, but that was only one state. The storm covered area from Indiana to the East Coast. It has impacted approximately four million people across the eastern half of the United States.
Shelters and cooling stations have been established across the tri-county area. In Gallia County, the Emergency Operations Center is operational and working to assess damages across the county, as well as provide information and services to the public until power is restored.
In light of the extreme weather, two cooling stations are being provided for those in need. A cooling station has been established at the Gallia County Senior Center, located on Ohio 160. It is in operation from 1-6 p.m. daily. The cooling station is not intended for medical emergency situations. Those with medical needs or longer term shelter needs can call (740) 446-3126 for assistance.
The Gallia County Health Department, located on Jackson Pike, has been established as a non-emergency cooling station, and the Elks’ Farm, on Ohio 588, will be opened as a cooling station if the need arises.
Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning advises residents to be patient with crews and with personnel of local establishments who have been able to remain open during the disaster. Browning also asks that suspicious activity be reported to (740) 446-1221. Suspicious activity within Gallipolis City limits should be reported to (740) 446-1313. Storm-related property damage should be reported to (740) 441-2036.