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Doctor hosts 'thank you' cookout for linemen who restored power after historic ice storm

Posted at 4:10 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 18:27:15-05

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. -- Some line workers and utility crews in Nottoway County have worked overtime for nearly two weeks following a historic ice storm.

Dr. Taylor Myers opened East Coast Elite Chiropractic in Blackstone three years ago.

He was inspired to give back to the first responders after a Keyesville chiropractor fed local crews in Charlotte County.

“We just wanted to say thank you and give them an appreciation cookout for them,” Myers stated. “They’re working themselves to death. They’re sacrificing time with their family, friends, themselves, and their health.”

Blackstone lineman Dan Martin and his coworkers stopped by Myers’ cookout on North Main Street for lunch Tuesday.

“We as lineman everywhere, we strive to get everybody’s lights on. Something like this is greatly appreciated,” Martin said.

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Southern Electric Cooperative (SEC) has employed the help of nearby utility companies to assist in restoring power to their members.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 6,700 SEC members were still in the dark nearly two weeks after the ice storm.

Martin currently powers his own home with a generator because his electricity is also out. He urged members who are still in the dark to be patient.

“They brought multiple crews here. They have 800, 900 guys helping them. They’ll get your lights on. They’re doing the best they can,” Martin explained.

Ron White, Vice President of SEC’s Public and Member Relations, said they'll continue bringing crews on until the power is restored. He estimated that power will be back on for 99.9% of their members by Friday.

“We understand the frustration. We understand the impact the outages are having,” White said. “Our heart and soul is dedicated to getting the lights back on.”

Joe Paschal and his wife drove from Lunenberg to stand in protest outside the SEC headquarters on West Virginia Avenue for a second day.

His power was restored Monday night after it was out for 10 days.

Paschall voiced his frustration about what he describes as the mishandling of the entire restoration process by the utility company’s management.

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“The elderly and people on oxygen and there are people who really need help. It ticks me off,” Paschal stated. “It’s been a constant battle with [SEC].”

White said the ice storm damaged approximately 80 percent of their infrastructure that they are now replacing. SEC blamed hard-to-reach locations for the persistent outages.

Some electric crews have been forced to use farm tractors and bulldozers to pull their equipment through the forests and mud. White said the rural settings and widespread coverage also contributed to the extended outage.

There are six homes on average for every mile of electric line.

White admitted that some of the poles that are being replaced are about 50 years old. However, he said age of the pole is not used as a factor when determining whether a pole needs to be replaced.