CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 250,000 people are still without power in West Virginia after Friday's massive storm knocked out hundreds of power poles, distribution stations and circuit breakers across the state.
First Energy Co. -- which operates as Mon Power -- had 108,247 people without power while 147,408 of Appalachian Power's half-million customers remained without electric service, as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
An additional 750 workers will join crews of more than 3,000 workers Thursday who have traveled across the country to West Virginia and Virginia to help restore power, said Jeri Matheny, spokeswoman for Appalachian Power. Appalachian has secured help from Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia.
Despite hardships across the state, locals have risen to the occasion to help those in need. A food drive held in front of the Governor's Mansion in Charleston on Tuesday collected more than $60,000 in donations and much-needed food. Thousands of West Virginians who are in need because of the storm can receive the donated food from the Mountaineer Food Bank and Huntington Food Bank networks located in more than 50 counties.
"This recovery process is a 24-hour operation," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a news release. "While the road ahead remains a challenge, I'm grateful to everyone who has continued to work around the clock to help West Virginians."
Tomblin thanked "all West Virginians, and our friends near and far, who are going above and beyond the call of duty to help our state through a difficult and unprecedented time.
"Our utility companies and emergency management officials are doing everything possible to get us back on our feet again. All major roads are now open and we are on our way to getting the lights back on.
"The entire state has pulled together to weather this storm," Tomblin said. "Our National Guard and hundreds of community groups are going door to door to check on those without power."
The governor cautioned, however, "even with this remarkable effort, it will take time to recover from the violent storms. Please stay calm and be patient. We have a lot of work left to do, but we will get through this together."
Appalachian Power and state officials are characterizing the storm as "similar to or even greater than a hurricane, but without advance warning." The storm produced winds in excess of 75 mph and heavy rain across a large portion of Appalachian Power's service territory.
As of Wednesday morning, approximately 57 percent of Appalachian Power's customers across West Virginia and Virginia -- 244,192 out of 573,000 -- had their power restored, according to the company.
"As I've surveyed the damage, I've met with many folks who are without power and have damage to their homes. . . . At every single stop, I've watched folks generously working to help others despite their own hardship," Tomblin said in the release.
Jimmy Gianato, state director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is one of the people Tomblin thanked directly. Gianot's home was struck by lightening and burned to the ground Friday.
"Jimmy hasn't skipped a beat. He has been working around the clock to oversee the state's recovery efforts," Tomblin said. "And he isn't the only one. I've met thousands of others who are setting aside their personal struggles to help others."
Restoration estimates from Appalachian Power have not changed despite small storms Tuesday night. Greenbrier, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Putnam and Summers counties should expect to be up and running by Friday night. On Saturday, customers in Boone, Cabell, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo and Wayne counties should have power.
On Sunday, Clay, Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Roane and Wyoming counties should have power, more than a week after the massive storm ripped across the region.
First Energy customers might see relief slightly earlier, with Morgan County supposed to be fully restored sometime Thursday. Berkley, Grant, Hampshire and Mineral counties should have power by late Thursday along with the following towns:
Buckhannon, Big Otter, Clarksburg, Elkins, Elizabeth, Fairlea, Fairmont, Franklin, Gassaway, Glenville, Grafton, Harrisville, Hinton, Kingwood, Lewisburg, Marlinton, Parkersburg, Parsons, Sistersville, Spencer, Summersville, Webster Springs and Weston.