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Utility companies seek patience as crews work to restore power

About 2,700 Dominion Energy customer in Charlottesville and 17,700 in Albemarle County remained without power Tuesday evening amid snowfall and freezing temperatures, and utility companies serving the region asked for patience.

Dominion Energy, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Central Virginia Electric Cooperative have struggled to restore power to residents of Central Virginia after a mixture of rain and snowfall created hazardous conditions for much of the region.

Despite the high outage numbers in the Charlottesville area, the vast majority of customers in the counties of Buckingham, Fluvanna and Louisa were without power Tuesday evening.

According to Dominion, the region had ‘been particularly impacted by this historic event where damage is the most severe and road conditions are treacherous.”

According to Dominion’s outage map, many of the affected areas are expected to receive power again late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Dominion Energy is urging patience as its employees work to restore power to more than 100,000 people across the state.

In a Facebook post, Dominion acknowledged the “hundreds of messages from customers sharing anger and frustration, questioning when there will be an update on when their power will be restored.”

To provide updated restoration times, Dominion’s patrollers must be able to reach worksites and assess damage, the post reads.

“Our crews are working as quickly as they can to safely navigate icy roadways, road closures, downed trees and tree limbs,” the post reads. “In some localities the damage is so severe that some areas are not even accessible by foot, in those cases we are using drones to assess.”

More crews from across the country and more than 800 mutual aid contractors will be joining Dominion to assist with restoration efforts.

“We know that you are tired and cold, and it is extremely difficult to be without power during this time,” the post reads.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative officials said mutual-aid electric workers are coming from Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Georgia, Florida and other states are arriving to help them restore power in Greene, Madison, Orange and Louisa counties.

But officials say there may more days of dark and cold for customers before all have their power back online.

“Crews and contractors continue to assess damage, make repairs and restore service after [an historic winter storm] toppled trees, downed power lines and damaged electric equipment,” said Casey Hollins, the utility’s managing director for communications and public relations. “This multi-day restoration effort will be especially difficult due to the expected below-freezing temperatures over the coming nights, and [the utility company] urges member-owners to seek shelter or make alternative arrangements.”

Hollins said repair crews investigated outages along west U.S. 33 in Louisa County; Baker’s Store and Route 601 in Orange County; and Holly Hill and Tom’s Road in Greene County.

“We recognize this outage is having a significant impact on so many of our members,” Hollins said. “Our crews, contractors and other employees are thinking of our member-owners as we all work together to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.”

REC provides electric service to over 170,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties.

According to a news release from the city of Charlottesville, the Public Works day team was able to make significant progress toward improving road conditions and clearing right-of-way issues Tuesday.

Another full team will resume work at 7 a.m. Wednesday and work to clear intersections and provide additional removal for remaining secondary routes.

A modified night team was to operate Tuesday and actively work on clearing remaining snow issues and responding to any refreezing concerns, according to the release. Bridges, overpasses and ramps will be a priority.

Nearly all of Louisa County was without power Tuesday morning along with half of Albemarle and Fluvanna counties. With power out and temperatures expected to fall below freezing for the second straight night, several communities opened shelters and stations for residents to warm themselves and recharge their phones and devices.

The warming station at the Stanardsville Volunteer Fire Company is serving as an overnight shelter, officials announced Tuesday. Cots and blankets were provided from the American Red Cross and snacks, water and Gatorade were also provided.

Those seeking shelter were told to leave pets at home and bring necessary medications and additional blankets and pillows and food, if they wanted.

With power out and temperatures down, Fluvanna County officials are opening an emergency warming station for the cold and powerless at the Fluvanna County High School.

The site will remain open as long as power is out and temperatures are low.

Madison County opened a shelter at the Madison Firehouse, in Madison, citing nearly half of its population being without power.

“The county currently has approximately 48% of its citizens without power,” officials said in an announcement. “Should you leave your residence, please ensure all heating sources and cooking appliances are turned off. Please use caution with generators.”

Louisa County opened a shelter at the Holly Grove Fire Department. Orange County has opened shelters at Locust Grove Elementary School, Prospect Heights Middle School and the Gordonsville Volunteer Fire Company.

The University of Virginia opened Newcomb Hall and Clemons Library during the day on Tuesday for people to use to get warm and charge devices.


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