Thursday’s ferocious winter storm came quickly but the extensive recovery will come slowly. Thousands of First Energy customers across Northeast Ohio are still without power as crews continue to put the grid back together.
Around 10,000 customers are still without power as of Saturday afternoon.
Power is expected to be restored in some areas later today, but it may it take longer for other customers to have power turned back on, according to officials.
Lorain and Cuyahoga County residents could be without power until Sunday, according to First Energy's outage map.
John Skory, the president of the Illuminating Company, said outages were hovering around 60,000 as of early Friday afternoon. By 4:30 p.m., that number had been cut in half. As many as 80,000 customers were without power at the peak of the storm.
“We got hit my mother nature and we’re going to continue to work at it until we’re all hooked up,” Skory said. “It caught us off guard by the severity of it — I would say a little bit. We knew it was coming and we staffed accordingly.”
During the storm, Skory said crews could not make repairs because the straight line winds, which topped 50-miles-per-hour, prevented them from getting inside their bucket trucks. Instead, crews had to do what’s called a ‘cut-and-run’ where downed lines would be severed before crews moved to the next location.
The damage caused by the winter storm was widespread, which has made the restoration process much more difficult, Skory said
“It sure does because if it was concentrated in one area, you could flood the area and I think you could get results a lot quicker,” Skory said. “But with it being across our entire northeast coast, it’s a little more difficult.”
Curtis Robinson of Shaker Heights said he lost power soon after the storm hit. The lights started flickering before going out completely. He spent much of the day Friday trying to find space heaters and kerosene in order to keep his family warm.
But even that was a challenge, he said.
“I went up to the supply store to get some kerosene and went to a couple of other places and they were out,” Robinson said. “I also went up to Home Depot. They were all out of electric heaters.”
Robinson said he’s been told power should be restored by eight o’clock on Saturday evening. Total restoration could take until Sunday, Skory said. In the meantime, Robinson said he and his family have been passing the time by playing board games.
Sometimes, keeping things ‘old school’ is the best way to do it, he said.
“We told [our sons] this is how it used to be back in the day,” Robinson said. “It’s kind of funny because they’re talking about how they can’t get on their Xbox or Playstation.”
First Energy has also called in reinforcements from around the region in order to help supplement crews already working on repairs. Those reinforcements are expected to arrive Friday evening.
For a full listing of outages, and to see an estimated time of repair, click here.