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Crews work to restore power before next winter storm: 'It has been an experience'

Dinwiddie ice storm power outage 05.jpg
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 18:19:50-05

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. -- Some residents in Louisa have been forced to stay with family or in warming shelters after this week's winter weather knocked out their power.

Customers who spoke with CBS6 in the town of Louisa said they had been without power since around 9 a.m. on Monday.

"Overwhelmed, just a little bit," Jackie Spellman said of her experiences since the power went out. Her family had stayed with a sister in Charlottesville the first two days but came to the warming center at the Louisa County Middle School Wednesday. "People not having power, us not having power, it's just not a good feeling. Just glad that we have places like this that we can come to."

As of Wednesday afternoon, over 3,400 Dominion Energy customers and over 11,000 Rappahannock Electric Cooperative customers are still without power.

Melvin Spruse said he had stayed in his house, having lost power around the same time, and was keeping it warm using a kerosene heater.

"I think it's outrageous that you know, there's that many people in this town without electricity," Spruse said.

Crews were out trying to repair the problems for customers on Wednesday.

"This circuit here is a delivery point for a co-op. It is top of our priority list," David Hinty, a contractor specialist with Dominion Energy, said.

Both companies are saying that the process of restoring power is proving to be challenging due to unplowed roads, downed trees and terrain.

"Just getting to a work location, required to spend sometimes hours cutting through trees to get to the damage," Casey Hollins, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative's managing director of communications and public relations said.

"The lines are built up through the mountains and we just have to walk in to get it," Hinty said.

Along with regular crews, there are also contractors and mutual aid teams out. REC said that its workforce has doubled as result of the assistance.

"Come in from Missouri, Indiana, Ohio. We have some that are coming in from South Carolina, Georgia," Hollins said.

Some customers CBS6 spoke with expressed understanding the pace of the work while others were frustrated, wanting more crews in the field and a clearer timeline of when power will be back.

Dominion said the majority of all its customers will have their power restored on Wednesday with most of Louisa expected to be done on Thursday. REC says they expect to be done by the end of the week.

"We appreciate everybody's patience, their understanding and we just ask that they continue to give us this grace and we continue to work through this damage," Hollins said.

Both companies added that they are racing to get down what they can before another batch of winter weather arrives on Thursday night, adding they are concerned the weather could bring further damage and more outages.