Parts Of W.Va. Still In The Dark 12 Days After Storm
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Twelve days and counting, that's how long some people in West Virginia have been without power since a massive storm blitzed the eastern United States. At the height of the outages, more than four million people had no electricity. Most are back online but 35,000 people are still waiting.
Here's Jessica Lilly of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
JESSICA LILLY, BYLINE: At Ansted Baptist Church in Fayette County, Joann Brewer and her grandkids have come here not for the Gospel but food and ice.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hello. May I we help you?
JOANN BREWER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Uh-huh.
BREWER: I was wanting to see if I could get some ice and if you had any more MREs.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We have actual hot lunches. We can do better than MREs if you like. We can fix you up a hot lunch if you would like it.
BREWER: To go?
LILLY: Brewer is one of almost 700,000 West Virginians who lost power right after the storm and her lights are still out. She's frustrated it's taken this long. But she's not all that upset and certainly didn't want to say anything bad while being interviewed in a church.
BREWER: I mean, what money you do have, you're running around trying to find something to eat or ice. And you hear there's ice hear and then you go and there's no ice. And you just - it's just rough. You know, it's just rough. Sit out on the porch in the evenings to try to be cool. But when you go to be at night, it's so miserably hot you just can't sleep. And you're just exhausted. It's like a never-ending camping trip for me.
LILLY: West Virginia is a tough state to restore electricity. It's mountainous, parts of it are remote and some roads are unpaved. Helicopters are being used to survey and fix the damage. The problem now is it takes a long time to restore power to just a few pockets of people.
Joann Brewer is a diabetic and lost nine bottles of insulin, along with a freezer full of food. Still, she tries to stay positive.
BREWER: I just take one day at a time. There's no sense in getting all frustrated. And everything will happen when it happens. You know, I mean, I'm not saying oh, I'm Miss Sunshine. But, you know, I'm fighting emotions in the inside. But it's, you know, there's no sense in being hateful or, you know, taking it out on somebody.
LILLY: For some, when the lights go out so does the water since wells are powered by electricity. Up a narrow road just outside of Ansted, folks like Marjorie Guthrie remain in good spirits.
MARJORIE GUTHRIE: It's been really hard. Especially in a mobile home it's super, super hot. We've just tried our best, you know. We haven't been without water and we do have a generator, so that's helped a lot. Keep on hanging in there, it'll get better.
LILLY: And she's hoping that happens today. She's called the power hotline, which said her neighborhood should have electricity by midnight. Others may need to wait a day or two longer.
For NPR News I'm Jessica Lilly in Athens, West Virginia.
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