Updated on Tuesday, June 14 at 4:10 p.m.
Power was restored to Wheeling Hospital just before 4 p.m., according to a representative from WVU Medicine via email.
Wheeling Hospital, as well as much of downtown Wheeling, is without power after a strong storm early Tuesday morning caused widespread damage in the Wheeling area.
Lou Vargo, the Director of the Wheeling–Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said a storm came through Ohio County around 1 a.m. with sustained winds of 60-70 miles per hour, and gusts of up to 80 miles per hour.
“The Emergency Operations Center has been activated and the city of Wheeling has declared a state of emergency which we are passing on to West Virginia Emergency Management Division and to the governor in case this becomes a prolonged power outage,” Vargo said.
Vargo estimates as many as 16,000 people are without electricity, including all of downtown Wheeling and Wheeling Hospital. He said the hospital has been on generator power since 1 a.m.
In an email, a WVU Medicine spokesperson confirmed that the hospital has had to suspend service in some areas.
“No surgeries are being performed. The public pharmacy and cafeteria are closed. The hospital is on full diversion for trauma, heart attacks, and maternity care,” the email said.
WVU Medicine went on to clarify that all inpatients are still receiving quality care and there has been no disruption in their service.
“Luckily we did not receive any flash flooding from the rains because our creeks are well below,” Vargo said. “But we did sustain some major damage from the winds. We have trees and powerlines down throughout the county.”
According to councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum, reported damage included government and community buildings.
“Our DHHR had the roof partially blown off,” she said. “There was a fire related to a downed power line in our Centre Market.”
With power out to so much of the city, including traffic lights, Vargo is warning citizens to limit travel to necessities and to treat all intersections as four-way stops.
“Even our first responders coming into work this morning, they had to go different routes because a tree was down,” Vargo said. “They would try an alternate route, a tree was out there.”
Heat is another concern if the power outage continues into tomorrow.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperatures are expected to rise into the high 90s Wednesday, with the potential for a heat index of 105 degrees. As defined by NOAA, heat index is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.
“That’s been the big topic of discussion because when you need to open the heat shelters you’re looking for cool places with air conditioning, but as I said most of the downtown area and most of the city is without power,” Vargo said. “We do have a contingency plan. There are areas in the city that do have power like South Wheeling.”