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From Appalachian Power: A strong weather system with prolonged damaging winds is affecting multiple states and large population centers from Illinois to the east coast. Much of Appalachian Power’s service area is experiencing sustained winds of 15 – 40 mph with frequent gusts of 40 – 55 mph. As of 5:45 pm Sunday, more than 74,000 Appalachian Power customers are currently without electric service due to damage from high winds, and additional outages are expected to occur as high winds continue to batter areas with moisture-saturated soil. High winds are forecast to continue through tonight and into tomorrow in parts of the company’s service area.

Outages are widespread across Appalachian Power’s service area. Currently the number of customers without service is 2,300 in Tennessee, 40,000 in Virginia and 32,000 in West Virginia.

Employees and contractors across the company are working to assess damage, clear safety hazards and repair damage on outages affecting large numbers of customers. Damage assessors and line crews are facing a number of difficulties in their efforts to identify damage and restore electric service. Some areas are inaccessible due to high water.

Continued high winds are also hampering restoration efforts. Workers cannot safely make repairs aloft from buckets in wind speeds in excess of 30 mph, and cannot safely work in forested areas where high wind gusts are still bringing down trees and limbs.

This storm system is affecting several states and major population centers. Appalachian Power is requesting additional resources but does not yet have commitments from contractors or utilities outside the company’s service area. Until the storm threat has passed and the extent of damage is more fully known, restoration estimates cannot be accurately determined.

High winds are forecast to continue through tonight and into tomorrow in parts of the company’s service area, which will hamper workers’ ability to assess damage and make repairs.