West Virginia Division of Highways cleanup crews worked well into the night on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, to clear fallen trees, dig out mudslides and reopen roads following heavy storms that struck much of the Mountain State.
Isolated cases of trees down or roads blocked by water or slides were reported throughout the state Tuesday night, but Gilmer, Kanawha, Putnam, and Mason counties were hit particularly hard. WVDOH work crews were out in force to clean up downed trees and other debris.
“Our crews are first responders in every sense of the word,” said Joe Pack, P.E., WVDOH Chief Engineer of District Operations. “In most cases we have to be out before police and fire and ambulance, in rain and wind and bad weather, to make sure roads are open.”
In Gilmer County, downed trees cut a few major routes in several locations, and also fell on smaller rural routes. District 7 Engineer Brian Cooper, P.E., said all routes were open again by 11 a.m.
Fallen trees were also cleared up Tuesday night in Kanawha, Putnam, and Mason counties, although another tree fall was reported on the morning of Monday, July 19, 2023.
However, WVDOH crews cannot clear trees that are entangled in power lines. Removing trees from active power lines requires specialized equipment and special training that only power company employees have.
When WVDOH repair crews discover a tree entangled in power lines, they immediately contact the power company.
Approaching downed power lines without the proper protective gear and equipment can be lethal. Crews for First Energy recently demonstrated how dangerous power lines can be at a presentation for WVDOH crews in Burlington.
If you come upon a downed power line, do not attempt to approach it. Downed power lines on the ground can kill people 30 or 40 feet away. Contact the power company immediately and leave the area.