2nd largest power outage in Virginia's history

Published: Aug. 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2011 at 2:53 AM EDT
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Press Release From Dominion Virginia Power and Dominion North Carolina Power

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Dominion crews in Virginia and North Carolina are assessing damage and working with local emergency personnel today to return electrical service to 1.2 million customers, focusing first on public health and safety facilities. The Hurricane Irene restoration effort is the company's second largest behind only Hurricane Isabel.

As of 10:30p.m., Dominion Virginia Power is reporting there are 313,154 customers in the Richmond Metro area without power, and more than 712,726 without power in Virginia. Report an outage 1-866-366-4357.

"We are helping local officials restore the critical services that help keep our communities safe," said Rodney Blevins, vice president of distribution operations for Dominion Virginia Power and Dominion North Carolina Power. "We have begun the restoration process following the extensive damage brought by Hurricane Irene."

By noon Monday, Dominion expects to complete the assessment of damage and have an estimate of when restoration for all customers will be complete.

More than 6,000 line workers and support personnel will be involved in restoring power, including line workers from utilities from Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina.  Dominion is working closely with state emergency management and transportation officials.

Motorists are reminded to help protect personnel on the roadside making emergency repairs by moving over from the lane nearest them and slowing down until they pass the repair site.

Priority is given to repairing circuits serving hospitals, water pumping stations, police and fire departments and other emergency locations.  As critical infrastructure circuits are restored, efforts focus on restoring power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time.

Storm restoration information is available online at http://www.dom.com/storm-center/index.jsp. An outage information map is available on Dominion's website at http://www.dom.com/storm-center/dominion-electric-outage-map.jsp.

If your electricity is interrupted:

  • Do not rely on your neighbors to report your outage. Call Dominion at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
  • Stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas and debris.  Treat all fallen wires as though they are energized, and report them by calling Dominion at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
  • Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Do not connect portable generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backward onto Dominion's power lines and endanger lives. Either have a qualified electrician perform the work or plug appliances directly into the generator using the proper-sized extension cords.
  • If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure the area is adequately ventilated.
  • Visually inspect the area around your electricity meter. If you detect or suspect any damage, call Dominion toll-free at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
  • Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to the appliance and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
  • Leave one lamp or light on so you will know when power is restored.
  • Listen to your local radio station on your car or battery-powered radio for regular news and weather updates.
  • Additional information on a wide range of electrical safety topics is available online at http://www.dom.com/about/safety/index.jsp.

The Northern Neck Electric Cooperative started this morning with 16,796 without power after Hurricane Irene. This evening 14,047 members are still without electricity.  NNEC linemen and contractor crews are working to restore power at this time. Broken poles and trees on power lines are scattered throughout NNEC's system.

NNEC President and CEO Greg White explained the restoration process, "Our first priority will be getting all the transmission circuits up and then feeders with critical loads such as sewer facilities, water plants, and nursing homes.  We will then spread these workers throughout our system restoring the main circuits and then the taps and services."

A look at Southside Electric Cooperative's outage map shows nearly 11,350 people without power.

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