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This is a developing story and will be updated.
A state of emergency has been declared in West Virginia’s state capital due to a natural gas outage that has left more than 1,000 families without heat, hot water or working stoves.
Gov. Jim Justice announced the National Guard has been activated to assist in providing resources to Charleston’s West Side neighborhoods.
Residents of the affected area are predominantly people of color living in a lower-income community.
The outage may have originated from a burst water pipe late last week, according to officials, that flooded the gas lines. The state’s Public Service Commission is investigating the cause.
Mountaineer Gas Company said a high-pressure water main break infiltrated the gas distribution system in that area on Nov. 10, 2023. The company reported that it has made progress on removing water from its 46 miles of natural gas lines in the West Side. Full restoration of natural gas services is anticipated within the next seven days, according to a release.
“I have spoken with the vice president of Mountaineer Gas, and we’re closely following their progress in restoring service to families,” Justice said. “From what I understand, it is no easy task, but they expressed they are diligently working to get gas turned back on as fast as possible. I have offered any state resources they may need to assist them.”
This will not be an easy or quick fix, according to Justice, so meals will be provided through various local charities, including senior centers and churches, in the coming weeks.
“The other big problem is making sure people are fed hot meals, especially through the Thanksgiving holiday next week,” Justice said. “We have both Kanawha Valley Senior Center and Lincoln County Senior Center pitching in to provide hundreds of meals. We are also working with West Virginia Health Right and A More Excellent Way Life Center Church on the West Side to take care of families. If this outage continues through Thanksgiving, we will make sure families are fed.”
Working with the West Virginia Emergency Management Division, Kanawha County Emergency Management, and the City of Charleston, the guard will be delivering bottled water along with various warming and cooking supplies to the West Virginia Health Right West Side Clinic located at 511 Central Avenue, Charleston on Thursday morning, Nov. 16, 2023. The time is yet to be determined.
Mountaineer Gas told the Gazette-Mail on Wednesday that customers will be receiving credits on their bills, although the credit may not apply until a future bill.