WEST JEFFERSON-An unexpected Friday evening storm struck dealt a heavy blow for thousands of residents across Ashe and surrounding counties.
Torrential rain combined with heavy wind gusts – in some instances above 35 miles per hour here in Ashe County – toppled trees and downed power poles across much of western North Carolina, including nearly the entire BREMCO service area. In fact, the cooperative called the outages the worst the area has seen since the Christmas ice storms of 2009.
According to BREMCO social media accounts shortly before 10 p.m. Friday night, “Extensive damage to the system, along with downed trees and power lines, is leading to longer restoration time but linemen continue working this evening in full force. Telephone carrier company problems are also affecting our outage map.”
At that point the cooperative said Watauga County had been dealt the heaviest blow, with some 4,000 customers remaining without power. Some 1,500 customers were without power in both Ashe and Caldwell Counties and a further 150 were without power in Alleghany County.
At least one Jefferson Post staff member said it took more than 12 hours for their power to be restored, but Watauga County apparently took the brunt of the storm.
BREMCO said Sunday morning around 9 a.m. that some 3,000 customers in Watauga County remained in the dark, though sister cooperatives from Rutherford EMC, Jones Onslow, Central, Edgecombe Martin, Piedmont and French Broad pitched in line crews to help turn the power back on.
Still, through midday Sunday, some 150 damaged locations, and up to 60 broken power poles, meant many people went without service throughout much of the day.
“Estimated restoration times aren’t possible in this extensive damage but we’re putting up 3-phase, main lines, and then individual service to get the most people restored in the safest, fastest manner,” according to BREMCO’s Facebook page.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.