CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A major supplier of ice to area stores had electricity restored Monday afternoon, another step in a return to normalcy after Friday's devastating windstorm.
Home City Ice in Milton and Parkersburg, which makes a considerable amount of the area's ice supply, was without power since Friday's storm. Power returned to the Milton location around 3:30 p.m. Monday, and ice production was expected to start about an hour later, said Josh Spence, operations manager.
The company, which usually makes 120 tons of ice per day, was buying ice from other states to try to meet the large demand since the storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residences and businesses.
"We're buying it as far south as Louisiana," Spence said early Monday, before the power came back. "We're getting semi [truck] loads at a time. We're out now -- as soon as we get it, it goes into the market and lasts two to three hours."
The company delivers ice to terminals in Gassaway and Princeton, as well as in Gallipolis and Portsmouth, in Ohio, and Lynchburg, Va. Drivers take the ice from the terminals and the Milton and Parkersburg locations to vendors throughout West Virginia.
"We lose money when we have to buy ice, so we're doing this just to help people," Spence said. "We're desperately trying to get it out to the community."
After many realized power wasn't coming back on anytime soon, people scrambled to find bags of ice, but most stores were out.
The Milton operation's freezer, which usually is kept at 21 degrees, was a warm 51 degrees at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, Spence said. Appalachian Power was at the company trying to repair a downed line.
"We do have an AEP crew working on the power right now. Fingers crossed that we can get it back on," Spence said. "We can make 120 skids in 24 hours -- right now, we're selling 120 skids in about 3 hours."
Each skid of ice equals about 2,500 pounds, according to Spence.
Even when the power is turned back on, though, the company won't be able to meet demand in the area, according to Spence.
"I've got hundreds and hundreds of calls from companies needing ice," he said. "I've got people on hand for the second the power comes back."
At the pumps
About 200 gas stations in West Virginia had no gasoline Monday afternoon -- but that qualified as good news, according to the president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association.
"It's improving greatly," said Jan Vineyard. "From the 8 a.m. report to noon report, about 25 more stations got fuel."
After Friday's storm, residents rushed to convenience stores to fill up their vehicles and get gasoline to run generators.