The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Utility crews don’t take holiday from storm work
BY SCOTT SHENK
While others enjoyed July Fourth festivities, utility crews were out in the scorching heat working to bring electricity back to the last of the more than 100,000 customers in the Fredericksburg region who lost power after last weekend’s storms.
As of Wednesday evening, about 1,800 homes and businesses remained without power in the region, according to the utility companies that serve the area.
Stafford County continued to lead the pack in power outages, with 699. More than 100 utility customers in Fredericksburg were still without power Wednesday night.
Although the number of those without electricity is dropping, many are still suffering.
Dixie Martin and nearby neighbors who live in rural Orange County are still living in the dark and in all-but-unbearable heat.
“Everyone everywhere around us has power restored,” she said Wednesday afternoon.
She said a tree is blocking the main road to the handful of homes.
The 74-year-old widow said her indoor thermometer read 89 degrees and she had to throw out all of her refrigerated food.
“Here it is Wednesday with no relief in sight,” said Martin, who stayed with friends Tuesday night and planned to do so again Wednesday night if her power wasn’t restored by then.
She may have relief soon.
In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell said Dominion Virginia Power reported that it was a day ahead of schedule in restoring power, with most of its customers now expected to have service restored by Friday night.
The problems started Friday night when a powerful storm known as a derecho blew through the area. The 80-mph winds knocked down trees and power lines here and throughout the state. Other storms followed over the weekend, including local thunderstorms and a tornado in Mechanicsville, near Richmond.
Some 1.2 million Virginia residents and businesses lost power because of the storms. McDonnell declared a state of emergency.
On Wednesday, he said all hospitals were back on grid power.
McDonnell also said Virginia’s death toll from the storm has risen to 12, with the addition of a fatality in Richmond.
Laura Southard of the state Department of Emergency Management said the death was caused by a falling tree, but no other details were immediately available.
Also, a utility worker from Florida was killed Tuesday night in a Loudoun County crash after the 2004 Freightliner bucket truck she was driving apparently had brake problems.
Statewide, seven primary roads and 101 secondary roads remained closed Wednesday.
Locally, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 511 site, one road remained closed–McCarty Road in Stafford.
The storms caused an estimated $263,000 in damage to the 14-county Fredericksburg District roadways, according to VDOT. The department had to fix traffic signals and clear debris from downed trees and power lines in Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Caroline and Gloucester counties.
VDOT is seeking federal assistance to cover the costs of the storm recovery.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436