Halloween storm downs trees, dampens festivities

by Kate Evans & Kate Shunney

Residents along Rock Gap Road had multiple downed trees to clean up on Friday morning, November 1.& Kate Shunney

A fierce storm system moved into Morgan County on Halloween night, toppling trees in certain areas and leaving a wake of debris and blackouts for hundreds of residents.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning earlier in the day, predicting strong wind gusts and heavy rains.

Local trick or treating and area Halloween events were postponed or cancelled due to public safety concerns.

No tornado touched down in the county, but there was heavy tree damage in some areas.

A large willow tree was uprooted by high winds on Halloween night, blocking a private driveway in the south end of the county.

West Virginia Division of Highways Supervisor Rodney Crowell said that trees, tree limbs and power lines were down on roadways all over the county Thursday night after the storm.

There were several roads that had both trees and power lines down. Road crews cleaned up debris into Friday and worked around downed power lines.

Potomac Edison was called in to handle the power lines, Crowell said.

Burnt Mill Road, Cold Run Valley Road, Michaels Chapel Road and Rock Gap Road were closed until downed trees and lines could be removed.

Morgan County 911 Dispatch Center Director Sarah Hogbin said small fires were caused in places by power lines coming down. There was a substantial amount of water on Cold Run Valley Road which resulted in its closure, Hogbin said.

Other 911 calls Thursday night included a vehicle accident at 7 p.m. and some random medical calls.

Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company responded to eight calls between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. Four of those were for trees or wires down, two for outside fires and two for motor vehicle collissions.

One of the accidents was on Winchester Grade Road near Henry O. Michael Road and the other was on Martinsburg Road just before River Road.

Wires were reportedly down in the 8500 block of Valley Road, Rock Gap Road, Cold Run Valley Road and a lane off Rock Gap Road.

On Friday at mid-day, 471 electric customers were out of power, according to the Potomac Edison outage map.

Bus trouble

The Thursday storm caused a mess for the schools on Friday morning since their buses couldn’t pick up kids in some locations.

Some Morgan County Schools buses operated on a delay Friday morning due to storm damage, said Transportation Director Tammy Painter.

Schools warned parents by robocall that some buses were running into issues from trees and power lines being down on the roadway and that drivers had to re-route their bus runs. They also gave a list of roads that they would not be able to service Friday morning for student pick-ups due to road closures and trees and power lines being down.

Those roads were Burnt Mill Road, Michaels Chapel Road, Johnson Mill Road and its intersection with Highland Ridge Road, Cold Run Valley Road and Rock Gap Road.

There wasn’t a countywide bus delay since many bus runs ran on time Friday morning on route without road issues, Painter said. All of the roads that were closed from the storm were open by the afternoon bus run and there were no afternoon bus delays.