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Photo by Shelley Hanson – Wheeling Park employee Eric Wagner uses a chainsaw on Thursday to cut down a downed tree at the park’s miniature golf course.

WHEELING – AEP Appalachian Power spokeswoman Joelle Moray said Thursday that work to restore power is progressing following the pair of derechos that passed through the area earlier this week, but the company is not did not estimate recovery times for those still without power in the Wheeling area.

People looking to cool off in Thursday’s sweltering weather have another outlet to do so. The Wheeling Park swimming pool reopened on Thursday, even as damage cleanup continued across the park.

Moray said AEP is pleased with what the crews have been able to accomplish since they got to work Tuesday morning.

“It’s going so well,” she said. “A lot of progress is being made.”

According to AEP’s power outage map, as of 6:45 p.m. Thursday there were 4,036 customers without power, compared to about 16,000.

Tuesday morning’s storm – a double derecho with wind gusts of 70 mph – tore through the area, damaging property and trees and leaving thousands of people without power in the Ohio Valley.

Moray added that there were “tons of issues” due to the “significant weather event”. But that’s not uncommon after a severe storm, she noted.

“It’s really bad everywhere. You don’t know until you’re in the field and look at it. You have to go out and see what you’re dealing with,” she said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the AEP outage map had added estimated recovery times for several neighborhoods still without power, from anywhere Thursday night through tonight. In other quarters, the map indicated that crews were still assessing conditions.

“We have over 50 crews working to restore power as quickly as possible,” she said.

Rod Haley, executive vice president of the Wheeling Park Commission, said Thursday that power was restored to the park Wednesday night. The swimming pool, golf course and White Palace have all reopened.

However, as hundreds of uprooted and damaged trees still needed to be removed, the area of ​​the park where the lake, playground and shelters are located will remain temporarily closed.

“The team did a great job. We’ve had a lot of support,” Haley said, adding that an outside tree removal company has been hired to help park workers. The park also received support from the Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Agency and the West Virginia Division of Highways.

He noted that members of the West Virginia National Guard are also expected to assist soon. He estimated that it would take at least a few weeks for the park to be totally cleared from the storm.

In addition to the numerous damaged trees, sections of the fence were knocked down. No damage was caused to buildings in the park. The roof of a picnic shelter was damaged by a branch crossing it, he added.

Haley said the park’s FunFest Friday event, which features music, food and more for families, is still scheduled to take place tonight from 6-9 p.m. Tonight’s group will be the Misfits, he said.

While the power was out, Haley noted that the park was able to keep the pool water clean by using generators to run its pump and chlorinator. Park food had to be temporarily moved offsite to Oglebay Park facilities during the outage.

The Appalachian Power Facebook page estimates power to Ohio and Marshall counties could be restored by 10 p.m. today, but notes “there may be isolated instances” in which it takes longer .

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