‘I’m super excited and so grateful’: Power crews work nonstop to turn the lights back on

‘I’m super excited and so grateful’: Power crews work nonstop to turn the lights back on

CHESTERFIELD Co., Va. (WWBT) - Electric crews are finding success with restoring power to tens of thousands of people as the weather “warms” up across Central Virginia.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, nearly 19,000 Dominion Energy customers in the metro-Richmond/Tri-Cities area were still without power.

However, for one North Chesterfield neighborhood, power was restored around noon Monday – nearly 50 hours after it first went out.

“Ecstatic! We have not even made it in the house yet, but we got the group texts saying your power is back on,” said Amanda Harris, of Chesterfield. “Excited about that.”

NBC12 was inside a house Monday when the power came back on for homes in the Silverleaf neighborhood near Hopkins Road.

“Guess what... the power’s been restored and I’m like ‘thank you, Jesus!’ He does answer prayer,” said Danielle Breckenridge. “We were in a very comfortable spot, but there’s no place like home.”

For more than two days, hundreds of homes in the area reached temperatures inside in the 40s.

“We had to use the gas fireplace and it doesn’t heat the entire place and it doesn’t heat the entire house,” Harris said. “It’s only in one confined space so me and my daughter have just been in a confined space.”

It is an unfortunate reality for thousands of people in Central Virginia right now. Electric companies are working around the clock to get customers back on the grid as soon as they can.

“When things like that happen, I honestly say a prayer for them because it’s a lot of pressure to be under immediately,” Breckenridge said.

Breckenridge has been through power outages before at here Silverleaf neighborhood home. In 2011, she said she went 10 days without power due to Hurricane Irene.

“That time it was warmer,” she said. “So, it was a little different, you can cool yourself off, bring in some ice. When it’s cold... I can’t even think.”

Weather conditions are a major factor for these restoration crews as well. There’s also a process that needs to be followed.

First assessment happens; if there is an issue with trees on lines arborists need to be called in to remove them.

However, before that work can be done, electric crews need to “ground” the power line for safety.

Tree removal crews are then able to conduct their work.

That was the case for the Silverleaf neighborhood on Monday. Once the tree was removed, Dominion Energy was able to “shock” the power line running through the woods near the neighborhood. Roughly 30 minutes later power was restored.

“I’m super excited and so grateful,” Breckenridge said.

However, once power is restored for homeowners, the work continues for them as well. Many people had to raid their freezers and refrigerators to find out what they could salvage.

Warming up their house is also on the top of the list as these families work to get back to normal following the ice storm.

“Turn the lights on, make sure everything is working as it should and lay in my own bed!” Harris said.

As power crews work to bring more customers back on the grid, some companies said there may still be “nested outages.”

According to a Dominion spokesperson, nested outages are where there may be two breaks in the power lines to an area; “one below (or “nested” within) the other.”

That may have been the cause behind the prolonged outage in Silverleaf.

On Sunday afternoon, several homeowners reported getting an automated phone call stating power had been restored to the area when that was not the case.

A Dominion spokesperson said there was a larger outage in the area which included parts of the neighborhood. Once the “job” was closed at 3:43 p.m. on Sunday, it resulted in the call back to homeowners. Immediately those owners called Dominion to re-report their outage, providing the electric company with greater clarity about the outage and a better pinpoint to where the damage may have been.

“It may have been hidden by the larger outage,” the spokesperson said.

Dominion hopes to have all customers’ power up and running by late Tuesday.

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