The New Years Eve celebration probably began a bit early Thursday for some Watauga County residents and for weary Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation employees, after the last of the outages caused by the Christmas Day ice storm were completed.
Crews finished restoring the last outages Thursday morning in Watauga County, which was hardest-hit by the storm.
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Blue Ridge Electric officials say some isolated, single-residence outages might remain, but those are difficult to detect. Technicians will continue cleanup work through the weekend and will restore power to those isolated residences.
The storm knocked out power to more than 25,000 customers, primarily in Watauga and Avery counties. But outages also were reported in Ashe, Alleghany, Caldwell, and Wilkes counties. The last of the repairs took place Wednesday and early Thursday in Watauga County.
Renee Whitener, public relations director for Blue Ridge Electric, said the ice storm damaged nearly half the cooperative's 3,000 miles of power lines and knocked down about 150 power poles. She said much of the damage took place in remote, mountainous terrain. In addition, trees felled by the ice blocked the path of repair crews in many cases.
More than 300 technicians worked to make the repairs – many of them starting on Christmas Day and working through the weekend until Thursday.