After 31 years in business, Black's Tree Service owner Greg Black said Friday's storm - and its aftermath - is the most widespread he's ever seen.
"Half of everybody's got damage. A third of those have got trees on houses," he said. "I get a call every eight minutes, on average."
Like electric company and local government crews, Black's employees have been working around the clock since Friday's storm, which had winds recorded near 80 mph. More than 20,000 people in Washington, Monroe, Morgan and Noble counties remained without power Monday afternoon, according to AEP Ohio's website, with estimates for restoration stretching into next week in some cases.
Romney for President campaign bus delivers water to area
About 5,500 Washington Electric Cooperative customers also remained without power. The co-op serve 10,500 customers in rural areas.
Residents in at least parts of Marietta, Belpre, Beverly, Lowell, New Matamoras, Newport and McConnelsville had power as of Monday. Many outlying areas, as well as Cutler and Macksburg, remained in the dark.
"Disaster. No power, lots of trees down," said Grandview volunteer fire chief and New Matamoras Councilman Roger Weddle in describing the scene in the village. "We've had a couple houses where the roof was (torn) clear off them."
Art Smith The Marietta Times
Workman repair a broken pole in Belpre Monday as efforts continue to return powers to all areas. Workers have come from all over, including these from Sumter Utilities in South Carolina.
Weddle said there were no significant injuries reported. A cooling and feeding station was once again available at New Matamoras Elementary School. On Sunday it drew more than 100 people, he said.
Firefighters have also been recharging oxygen tanks for residents who use them, a concern that's common around Washington County, Sheriff Larry Mincks said.
"We've been working very closely with the volunteer fire departments and have been coordinating our activities with them," he said.
At a glance
AEP Ohio customers without power Monday evening:
Washington County - 16,205 (58 percent).
Monroe County - 803 (70.9 percent).
Morgan County - 3,681 (44.1 percent).
Noble County - 2,528 (84.9 percent).
Washington Electric Cooperative customers without power Monday evening: 5,500 customers throughout the entire system that serves 10,500 customers. For more information, Facebook at WashingtonElectricCoop.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered two tractor trailers full of bottled water to the Washington County Jail. From there it was distributed around the county, with deputies in some cases taking it door to door and checking on elderly people or those who hadn't been heard from in a while, Mincks said.
The Washington County Emergency Management Agency distributed water and some ice to volunteer fire departments so they could get them to people in their communities, said Jeff Lauer, county EMA director.
"We had trouble getting ice, but the Corner Store in Beverly donated us two pallets," he said.
The cooling station at the community building in Marietta's Lookout Park got a boost when the Romney for President campaign bus dropped off supplies Monday morning.
Scott Jennings, Romney campaign director for Ohio, said the bus had already been scheduled to swing through the state, but it didn't seem like a good idea to be politicking while people were struggling with power and water issues. Instead, they sent out a call for supplies and planned half a dozen stops Monday to distribute 1,500 bottles of water and more than 1,000 non-perishable food items from Cambridge to Portsmouth.
"We're happy to bring it out here," Jennings said. "(We) just thought this was probably a better thing to do."
Several local Republican candidates and supporters showed up to help unload the supplies, saying they were doing it to be of assistance, not to drum up support.
"We live here too, and we want to do what we can," said Ben Keeler, district press secretary for Congressman Bill Johnson, who lives in Marietta.
A cooling station was also set up at the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department's training building. That structure, the fire department itself, the water plant, Kroger and CVS were the only places with power in Belpre.
"We've been getting customers that we've never had before," said Kroger employee Sue Headley, who noted the store ran its generator Saturday night and opened Sunday morning.
Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said he's been in contact with AEP Ohio officials regularly. Monday afternoon, before anypower was restored in the city, called a projection on the company's website of Friday "unacceptable."
"They can only work so fast. (But) everybody around us has power," the mayor said.
AEP Ohio spokeswoman Vikki Michalski said some residents may be frustrated to see electricity back in one area but unavailable nearby, but that's a result of how circuits run.
"The lines don't run in a straight line. Everybody on the same street isn't necessarily on the same circuit," she said.
And if one circuit will restore power to 5,000 customers and one will restore it to 200, the larger one takes priority, Michalski said.
She said about 2,000 workers have been pulling 16-hour days to get power restored. When they have to stop, others are working overnight to prepare supplies for the next day.
Around the county
Barlow volunteer fire Chief Troy Eddleblute estimated power was out in 90 percent of that area and is expected to be back on Wednesday. Most damage there was confined to trees blocking roads, he said.
"There wasn't a road that you could go through in our community that wasn't blocked before midnight on Friday night," Eddleblute said.
The Little Hocking Water Association was maintaining water, despite rumors they were in danger of shutting down, said office supervisor Candace Vlasac.
"The guys are working around the clock to keep the water flowing to everybody," she said.
Candice Armstrong, general manager at Tri-County Rural Water and Sewer District, said they did not have electricity at either of the booster stations, but had enough for the well fields. They were almost out of water at one point, but were holding steady later in the day - provided customers didn't overuse and power came back soon.
"Everybody use your water sparingly," she said.
Highland Ridge Water and Sewer did not run out of water, even though the system was down for a time at the Warren Water and Sewer Association, which supplies them, said a Highland Ridge board member, also named Jeff Lauer. Once Warren was up and running again, Highland Ridge was able to use a diesel generator to run its pumps, he said.
"We didn't lose a thing at this point. Everything's up and running," Lauer said.
Newport volunteer fire Chief Steve Foutty said power was restored there around 2 p.m. Monday, but until then there were no gas stations or stores open in the village. He appreciated sheriff's deputies delivering water and some gas for reserve generators, but said he felt like the area could have been better prepared for the storm's aftermath.
"There were a lot of resources that we absolutely did not have, and if we didn't have a backup generator on the water source in town, we'd have been in real trouble," he said.
Lorentz also expressed frustration at the overall preparedness, saying the mass power outage - and the loss of many forms of communication - seemed to catch officials "flat-footed."
The mayor said he's already been in contact with Mincks and county officials about his concerns.
"We're going to work up a better plan than what we had for this one," he said. "I think we can do better."
Lorentz said the city's water plant was in good shape and had plenty of diesel fuel for its generator.
Belpre resident Jim Humphries, 59, said he was disappointed with the lack of information sent out, but wasn't immediately sure what could have been done differently.
"If a real disaster happened, we'd be in big trouble. But I don't know how they'd get the information out," he said.
The difficulty in getting information led to one casualty in the Billingsley household in Marietta - 7-year-old T.J.'s fish.
"My fish died. We changed the tank and we didn't know we had to drink bottled water," he said.
T.J.'s mother, Angela, said the family was unaware of the water-boiling advisory issued by the city. It remained in effect for most of the city Monday afternoon.
Public facilities director Tom Kunz said city crews had been out in force all weekend.
"All departments came together really nicely," he said.
Mayor Joe Matthews said the city remained under a state of emergency, although power had been restored to about 90 percent of residents Monday. He was optimistic the city could be reimbursed for some of its overtime costs by FEMA.
Kunz said residents cleaning up their own storm debris should place it in the right of way between the sidewalk and the street. If people can transport branches, they could take them to Greenleaf Landscapes' composting site on Ohio 821. They would first need to stop and get a free slip at Greenleaf's retail site on Muskingum Drive. The site accepts wood up to 12 inches in diameter, Kunz said.
Outside Washington County
Williamstown officials say the city is facing a "critical situation" as power has yet to be restored to its sewer plant.
Mayor Jean Ford said officials with Monongahela Power have said they are having difficulty getting a substation at the Fenton Art Glass plant up and running, leaving pockets of Williamstown, including the water treatment plant, without electricity.
Bob Sterling, chief operator for the Williamstown Water Treatment Plant, said crews were working Monday to take part of the plant off of the power grid and hook it up to a separate generator to at least get partial service up and running.
A person died in Pleasants County early Sunday morning after the ATV he was riding in the dark struck a tree that had fallen across a road, the Associated Press reported. No other details were immediately available.
Back across the Ohio River, McConnelsville has power but many other parts of Morgan County are without, said Morgan County Commissioner Tim Van Horn. Some roads remain closed, and the county senior citizen director is keeping track of elderly residents without water or power.
"We're continually monitoring them," he said.
Monroe County Commissioner Tim Price said outside of Woodsfield, which generates its own power, a sizable portion of the county remained without electricity Monday afternoon. He's heard estimates that power might not be restored until the weekend.
"We've got a lot of the county without phone service" as well, Price said.
The county emergency management agency is distributing ice and water to local volunteer fire departments, he said.
Price said he only knew of one injury directly related to the storm, a motorcycle accident that happened Friday night. He did not have any additional information on the crash.
There's been some structural damage as well.
"It just seems like it's been spotty, in different areas of the county," he said.
Noble County Commissioner Gary Rossiter said there were no serious injuries or deaths in the county, but two or three houses had been destroyed.
"We've gotten pretty lucky," he said. "We'll be back up and running here within the next few days, I hope."
Water and sewage plants are almost totally running on backup power, but Rossiter said things were pretty safe on that front.
Even if power isn't fully restored until later in the week, Rossiter said Fourth of July activities at the county fairgrounds will continue.
Michael Erb and Conor Morris contributed.