CLEVELAND, Ohio — In the wake of significant damage from Hurricane Sandy, First Energy now plans to have all power restored in Northeast Ohio by the weekend.
Additionally, Cleveland Public Power says its customers are also on pace to have power restored by Thursday.
“We really appreciate the patience of our customers, we know how difficult it is to be without power,” said First Energy spokesperson Jennifer Young. “This is pretty significant. It was really localized to the Greater Cleveland area and communities along the lake.”
As of Thursday morning, about 120,000 First Energy customers were still in the dark following the storm on Monday. Cuyahoga County was experiencing the most outages, followed by Lake County.
“You know, look out my window and see no trucks working on the wires that are hanging that kinda aggravates me a little bit,” said Prince Moultry, a Cleveland resident who has been without power since Tuesday.
“Oh, it was coming down really hard,” said Moultry. “Hard rain, hard – I thought, at times, maybe snow and hail and the wind, I could feel the house shaking from side to side.”
According to First Energy, downed trees and limbs have made it difficult to reach some damaged wires. Crews are working around the clock to restore service, but many have to spend hours first clearing debris.
“Even once the storm had passed through on Monday and Monday night, into [Tuesday], we were still dealing with high winds,” said Young. “Because much of our work has to be done from bucket trucks, it’s unsafe to put the bucket trucks up when you’re still seeing gusts of 35 to 40 miles per hour.”
The western suburb of Bay Village was hit very hard.
Mayor Deborah Sutherland said that 85 percent of the city lost power during the storm, and some won’t see it restored until the weekend.
The mayor also lost power. She said some of the large stately trees the city is known for have toppled in hard to reach areas. Those residents might not have their power restored for another week.
“I heard a big boom and it went out,” said PJ Myers, who lives in central Bay Village. “It’s a little bit crazy. We cleaned out the refrigerator and the freezer, and just trying to stay warm.”
First Energy, according to Young, has mutual assistance agreements with other utility companies like Cleveland Public Power to help in the aftermath of a storm.
While they acknowledge sending an undisclosed amount of crews to the east coast following Hurricane Sandy, First Energy has help from crews in Missouri, Illinois, California and Colorado. About 650 linemen are working the storm on behalf of their customers locally. Forty-five of the crews have been devoted exclusively to restoration in Cleveland.
In Cleveland, there were about 23,428 First Energy customers without power as of Thursday morning. About 9,000 customers should be restored by midnight Thursday, and another 8,000 Thursday and Friday. The final 9,500 should be restored by Sunday morning.
But that’s not soon enough for many businesses and offices in Bay Village including the U.S. Post Office branch, which is still closed.
The Heinen’s grocery store on Dover Center Road is usually very busy on Halloween, but this holiday instead of last-minute shoppers and treats, the store was eerily quiet with empty shelves.
Employees implemented an action plan to save their inventory by moving all of the perishable foods into refrigerated trailers.
”We’re waiting, and waiting on the power to restored,” said store director Mike Tomsic.
That’s really all anyone can do right now, said PJ Myers.
“I’m just gonna hunker down and bundle up with the family,” he said.
For a closer look at where the outages are being reported, visit an interactive map updated by First Energy by clicking here.
Several shelters have been opened for residents without power. For a list of those shelters, click here.
*For more on Superstorm Sandy’s wrath locally and nationally, click here.