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County leader on hunger strike over shelter situation: 'Citizens are suffering'

Posted at 4:49 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 19:01:40-05

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. -- A Nottoway County leader announced he was on a hunger strike in protest over the way the county treated those still without power following Saturday's ice storm.

Nottoway County Supervisor John Roark also said he planned to sleep in his truck Tuesday night.

He is upset because the county's three shelters close at 4 p.m., leaving those in need of heat, electricity, and water to fend for themselves after dark.

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"Plain and simple, there are citizens here, sleeping in vehicles because the shelters were not available overnight," Roark said. "Since there are citizens that are suffering, I decided I was not going to have any comfort. If there are any citizens sleeping in their vehicles, I'm going to sleep in mine. And I will not eat until there is a shelter open, at least one of the three shelters here open, 24-7."

County leaders said they have since received a shipment of supplies from the state needed to open a 24-hour shelter. That 24-hour shelter is expected to open on Wednesday.

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A 24-hour shelter is good news for Nottoway residents like Stacy Wells.

"We have a kerosene heater but that doesn't take care of not having any electricity. So right now we don't have any use of our toilet, we don't have any water," she said. "When the sun is down, that's when it's the coldest at night, so people really do need to have some kind of warmth during the night as well."

Power companies working to restore electricity to Southside Virginia could not give a specific restoration timeline, but said it could be days before power is fully restored.