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Power outages were still widespread late Friday, with some expected to last through the weekend.
SAM OWENS | The Roanoke Times
Jason St. Vincent, an Apex Tree Service worker, carries cut wood over to a huge wood pile being created from the tree that fell on Beverly Thomas's house due to the stormy weather Roanoke received, Thursday afternoon. Vincent and his fellow Apex Tree Service workers had been working since 10:30 a.m. to get as much of the tree removed as they could.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Residents who have lost power take advantage of Mill Mountain Coffee's wifi connection to use the internet and get a hot cup of coffee at the Starkey Road location.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Tready Gardner uses Mill Mountain's internet connection to study for his CPA exam. Gardner, who lives in Raleigh Court, didn't lose power but lost his cable/internet connection, which he needed to study for his exam.
Friday, June 14, 2013
On Friday, coffee shops offered more of the comforts of home than many Roanoke Valley residences.
As the work week ended, 25,736 customers in Roanoke city and Roanoke, Franklin, Botetourt and Bedford counties were still without power and preparing for the possibility of a weekend without electricity, with Appalachian Power estimating that most of its customers in Roanoke and Roanoke, Bedford and Franklin counties would see power return by Monday night.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., declared Friday evening that Thursday's damage was the result of a derecho, though a much weaker version than the long-lived windstorm that caused far more widespread damage and power outages on June 29, 2012. On social media, meteorologists and weather enthusiasts debated the validity of calling Thursday's squall line a derecho, as multiple definitions exist with none standardized by the National Weather Service.
Katherine De Lorraine, a novelist who lives off Virginia 419 and often works out of the Mill Mountain Coffee shop on Starkey Road in Roanoke County, opened her windows Thursday night to make things a little more bearable inside her powerless home and charged her phone in her Prius.
Friday morning, she headed to the coffee shop even earlier than usual looking for coffee, breakfast and a place to plug in her laptop.
By 7 a.m. the shop was packed. Employee Anna Phillips said they opened at 6 a.m. and an hour later they were so busy she had trouble brewing enough coffee.
"People would come in and say, 'I can't use my coffee maker. I don't have power,'" Phillips said, adding that people ordered five or six cups of coffee and asked if the WiFi was working.
A day after a line of storms thrashed the area with winds of up to 70 mph, tens of thousands of homes remained without power. At the peak of the outage, about 69,000 Appalachian Power customers in the region lacked electricity.
Appalachian spokesman Todd Burns said customers in the New River Valley, with the exception of Pulaski County, should see power by tonight. Pulaski County customers can expect power by Sunday night.
After beginning to assess the damage at 7 p.m. Thursday, Appalachian Power dispatched more than 2,200 workers to the region as part of its restoration effort, Burns said. He said crews have been dealing with the slower repairs caused by 42 broken power poles.
Burns said Appalachian was monitoring the storms as they charged toward the East Coast Thursday but still ended up surprised as the cell veered toward Roanoke.
"It was really hard to tell where the storm was going to do its damage," Burns said.
More than 900 workers from outside the area arrived Friday to supplement the repair push. Meanwhile, Cox Communications waited in the wings to restore its cable and Internet services.
Company spokeswoman Sarah Weaver said Friday afternoon that Cox was waiting to restore service to 11,000 to 12,000 customers in its Roanoke service area. She said the company must wait for power to be restored before beginning work on its services.
She said the company is installing generators and bringing in additional resources from Northern Virginia to aid the restoration effort.
Throughout the city, the Roanoke Parks and Recreation Department was working to analyze the damage sustained by city trees.
About 100 trees fell in Roanoke city parks, according to parks and recreation director Steven Buschor, including three of the large oaks around the former Fishburn Mansion that now serves as Mountain View Recreation Center. The mansion itself was not damaged.
A five-man crew started cutting up the giant trees Friday morning and expects the work to continue into the middle of next week. Other trees lost large branches.
Buschor said crews worked until 10:30 p.m. Thursday to clear debris from city streets and will continue working through the weekend.
Even the Mill Mountain Star was out. The power outage prevented the city from showing its Flag Day spirit. It had planned to light the star red, white and blue, according to a news release.
Several city pools also remained closed Friday because of power outages. Power was restored at Fallon Park Pool early Friday afternoon, and it is prepared to open today for its normal hours of operation, according to a city news release.
As restoration efforts continue into the weekend, Burns said more than two-thirds of those originally affected by the outage have seen power return. The company still has more than 1,300 separate outages to repair, but the majority of those serve fewer than 100 customers each.
Good projected weekend weather conditions are expected to aid the crews, he said.
Staff writers David Ress, Annie McCallum and Kevin Myatt constributed to this report.
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