After week of winter storms, Va. power companies work to restore power to customers

Power crews work to get the power back on for residents in Louisa County, Virginia. (Courtesy Rappahannock Electric Cooperative)

Power companies in Virginia hope that the calmer weekend weather will allow crews to restore power to residents after this week’s winter storms.

Dominion Energy Spokesperson Peggy Fox told WTOP as of Saturday morning, 2,000 customers are without power in Northern Virginia, with more than half are living in Stafford County. That number had dropped to just over 500 by Saturday.

Fox said that those customers who are not yet had their power restored have been contacted directly about the efforts to bring them back online. The push to get power restored as quickly as possible comes as some residents have been without electricity since Sunday when the first storm hit the region.

“We know how frustrating it has been trying to get a precise answer to when their lights will be back on,” Fox said. “As we work to restore power, we continue to uncover more damage, so that’s what’s shifted how long we believe it will take to get power restored.”

Meanwhile, the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, which services 22 Virginia counties, said Friday that nearly 21,000 customers are still in the dark.

REC estimates that most outages will be restored by the end of the weekend, with some smaller scattered outages continuing into next week.

According to a press release, mutual aid crews from across the country will work together with REC’s workers to make repairs and restore service.

“For those still without power, we have not forgotten you,” Casey Hollins of REC said. “Crews continue to make repairs and restore power as quickly and safely as they can.”

Residents weigh in on outages

But after nearly a week without power for some residents, it’s getting hard for them to remain patient.

Fredericksburg resident Emily Bates told WTOP that has endured a harrowing week since her power went out around 9 a.m. Monday morning.

She can see her breath inside her home. Her body temperature had dropped to 95 degrees — any lower and she could have suffered from hypothermia. And the three dogs she owns and multiple cats she fosters have prevented her and her husband from being able to relocate to a hotel.

Bates’ father-in-law was able to provide a small generator that have powered a space heater and and light, but attempts to get Dominion to restore the electricity in her home have fallen short.

“They promised that our power would be on [Friday] night between 6 and 11 p.m., and 11 came and went,” Bates said. “I called them and they said ‘Oh well, we found more issues and we don’t have the equipment.'”

Abbe Buckhann and her husband, William, were fortunate enough to get their power back on recently, but it was rough going until then.

Abbe suffers from lymphedema and has a service dog, which ruled out many options for hotels. The couple resorted using their wood fire stove to stay warm, but when they ran out of chopped wood, they starting using two-by-fours, and then magazines and then old papers to keep the fire going during some nights that had temperatures in the high teens.

“It was such a major fail on so many parts. You know, I get the power company, but I mean, VDOT [and] everybody, total failure — everywhere,” William said, before Abby chimed in “Especially the outgoing governor.”

Jackie White, who lives just north of Orange in Rapidan, said it’s been difficult keeping the fireplace going because it shuts off the generator if she has her TV on at the same time.

“It’s just been hard,” she said, because she takes medication and has had to constantly run out to get gas to keep the generator and refrigerator running.

White has tried several times to get through to a representative at Rappahannock Electric, but she said the system keeps hanging up on her.

“I just wanted to hurry up and get this crap fixed,” White said. “They should have been more organized than this. Five days? Come on now. It shouldn’t take them five days to fix a pole.”

Saturday’s conditions will help crews work as it will be sunny with light winds. Temperatures are expected to reach the low to mid 30s. On Sunday, there is a chance for freezing rain and sleet in the morning hours before becoming all rain in the afternoon.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo and Matthew Delaney contributed to this report.

Power outages

 

Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is an Associate Producer at WTOP. She is a senior student at the University of Maryland, having written for a variety of campus publications and as a reporter at the campus radio station, WMUC 88.1. She began as an intern with WTOP in the summer of 2021.

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