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14,600+ customers Southside Electric Cooperative customers still without power after ice storms

Dinwiddie ice storm power outage 05.jpg
Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 14:49:06-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- More than 800 crews were in the field working to restore power across rural Virginia Saturday, after thousands of Southside Electric Cooperative members spent a week without it.

SEC announced Saturday morning that they were getting assistance in the restoration efforts from cooperative mutual aid and contract crews, as well as Dominion Energy.

As of 9 a.m. Saturday, they said around 19,800 customers were still without power. As of 6 p.m., SEC announced they were at 17,305 outages and expecting to continue to see those numbers decrease throughout the evening. That number dropped to 14,634 as of Sunday at 2 p.m.

Charmaine Taylor was one of many customers who, as of Saturday evening, still had no power.

"When I went home the other day, my temperature in my house has dropped down to 30 some degrees," said Taylor.

The Brodnax mother of five, including a newborn, had been staying with her children at a Virginia Beach hotel after her power went off Saturday but said she couldn't afford to continue. One week later, she and her children were headed home to a home with no power or running water.

"I hope nobody has to experience what we're currently going through. I've never been eight days without power. I've never," said Taylor.

Taylor said a cluster of homes on her street had had their power restored earlier in the week, but most of her neighbors on Pleasant Grove Rd. remained in the dark. She said there was even a power line down in the road that cars continued to drive over.

"And then what makes it so bad. They still they still can't provide us a restoration time. So we're just like hoping every day," Taylor said.

Meanwhile in Matoaca, the lights finally came back on for resident Kelle Spinos, who spent seven days without power.

"This morning, a bunch of crews from North Carolina showed up and they literally took an hour and the power is back on," said Spinos. "It doesn't feel real."

Spinos also expressed frustration with what she said was a lack of communication from SEC to their members, while thousands spent days without power.

"I think they need to be more prepared for storms. I think they need to have a plan of attack," said Spinos. "And I think, also, they need to do a better job trimming up the trees and keeping up with the poles in the line. We've lived in Matoaca for five years, and I've never seen a Southside truck tend to our line or tend to our trees. Nothing."

With 825 crewman on the ground Saturday, Chesterfield Supervisor Kevin Carroll said he was pleased by the effort to get the lights back on.

Friday he had called for more crews to assist SEC in those efforts, calling the situation a public safety issue.

"These are the heroes, right now, that are in our community to restore power," said Carroll. "I just want to let people know that there is hope on the way that there are people here working hard."

After many people expressed concern over why certain locations get power restored but not others, SEC's Director of Member Services, Timothy Kreis, explained that two homes could be right next to each other, but on two different lines.

As for how crews decide which lines to restore first, Kreis said, if they can access them, the main lines impacting the most people are typically their first priority.

Kreis said it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact timeline of restoration for individual homes. But he said SEC expected to have 90 percent of their territory's power restored by Thursday, and the remaining 10 percent back up by Sunday Feb. 28.

However, Kreis said with the influx of crews that came to help Saturday, that timeline could get pushed up.

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