CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Repair crews made some progress Wednesday restoring electricity to thousands of West Virginians who were still without power, but officials say it could be Sunday before all customers in Kanawha County have their lights back on.
"We are now being advised by AEP that this is a long duration event with power outages and some areas of Kanawha County could be without power through Sunday," according to a news release from county manager Jennifer Sayre.
Power is expected back for 90 percent of customers Friday night in Beckley, Bluefield, Hamlin, Hico, Huntington, Logan, Point Pleasant, Ripley, Wayne and Williamson.
Ninety percent of customers in the Charleston, Cross Lanes, Sissonville, Glasgow, Madison, Milton and Walgrove areas should have power Sunday at midnight.
Areas that are not listed are still in the process of being assessed and restoration times are unavailable at this time.
In Kanawha County, trick-or-treating is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, after it had been postponed from Tuesday.
Two separate incidents Tuesday night, both in Barbour County, as well as three others confirmed Wednesday brought the storm's death toll in West Virginia to at least six.
John R. Rose Sr., 65, of Philippi, a Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in the 47th District, was outside working on his deer farm when he was fatally struck by debris from a tree, according to a State Police trooper with the Philippi detachment.
George Rose told The Associated Press his father was with his wife when their all-terrain vehicle became stuck. She had begun walking away as he tried backing it up, he said.
"She heard the limb break, but she had already walked a little ways. She didn't think anything of it, and didn't realize that anything was wrong. But then she saw he wasn't coming,'' the younger Rose said.
Another man, 60, had a heart attack while shoveling snow, according to Leslie Fitzwater, a public information specialist for the state. On Monday, a 40-year-old woman died in a weather related car wreck in Tucker County.
Amy Shuler Goodwin, a spokeswoman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, identified the woman as Nanci Hedrick of Davis.
Upshur County authorities investigated the death of an Arlington man, identified as Mark Riffle, 51, who died after operating a gas generator inside a detached garage, according to the Upshur County Sheriff's department. He apparently went in the garage by himself to refuel the generator.
His wife went in to check on him and found him unresponsive. He was later taken to St. Josephs Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Also, a 68-year-old Preston County woman was ill and trying to get to a hospital, but died Tuesday when the family vehicle got stuck in snow.
State officials are also considering the death of a Raleigh County woman, who died of hypothermia late Sunday before the storm hit, as storm-related.
Power remains out statewide
About 78,545 state Appalachian Power customers remained without electricity at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, down from almost 126,000 Tuesday night, according to the power company's website.
In the northern part of the state, 94,118 First Energy customers were without electricity Wednesday evening, compared with almost 110,000 the night before. That number began to rise during the day as continued snowfall in First Energy's service area brought down lines and knocked out power that had been previously restored, according to Mon Power spokeswoman Patti Michel.
Michel said attempts to assess the extent of the storm damage were hampered by continued bad weather and up to 30 inches of snow in some areas. "We can't get our helicopters up in the air," she said.
First Energy officials were predicting it would be early next week before many customers see electricity restored, and mid-week for customers in remote areas. Officials hoped to get a helicopter in the air today to survey line damage and come up with a more precise schedule for power restoration.
There were nearly 19,326 customers without power in Kanawha County Wednesday evening, down from a high of 44,310 on Tuesday. Most of the outages were in the Charleston area, Sissonville and St. Albans.
Power company officials have said it will probably be Sunday before electricity is restored. AEP crews have also had trouble assessing storm damage because of bad weather and the inability to fly helicopters to inspect power lines.
Appalachian Power spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said damage so far has been less severe than with the summer's derecho storm and its aftermath. Although substations and circuit breakers were out and lines were down, the heavy snowfall damaged few if any utility poles.
AEP repair crews replaced about 1,800 utility poles in the aftermath of this summer's storms, a process that takes about four hours for each pole, she said.
Although snow had turned to rain in the Kanawha Valley on Wednesday morning, it was still snowing in many of the state's highest elevations, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said.
"In the valley the switch to rain ... and warmer temperatures are starting to eat away a lot of the snow," said meteorologist Tim Axford. "That should help recovery efforts. [Power] Crews aren't having to trudge through a lot of snow.
"We're not expecting too much more in the way of accumulation," he said.