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Posted July 1, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Utilities working to restore power

Staff Reports

Utility crews made progress Monday to restore electricity to the thousands of customers who lost power in Friday's powerful storm.

Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative reported Monday afternoon it hopes to restore power to the majority of the customers who lost power during Friday's powerful storm.

SVEC had almost 6,000 customers without electricity as of 3 p.m., according to the outage center on its website. But the utility stated in a press release issued Monday afternoon it set a goal of reducing the number of outages to 1,500 by the end of the day.

Crews from around and outside the state came to the aid of SVEC and continue to restore power to customers. SVEC had reported more than 9,000 customers had no power as of early Monday morning.

SVEC hopes to restore power to the majority of its customers by the end of Tuesday, according to the press release.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative reported more than 10,100 customer remained without power as of 3:20 p.m., according to its website. That's reduced from approximately 16,000 REC customers without power as of 10 a.m. and 68,000 as of Friday night.

Crews for REC reduced the outages in Warren County from 289 at 10 a.m. to 164 at 3:20 p.m.; and in Frederick County from 484 to 365, according to the utility website.

SVEC has brought in additional manpower, including crews from 15 cooperatives, and three contractors from Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In total, SVEC has about 440 men and women working to restore electric service.

Additionally, associates from Davis H. Elliot, Asplundh Tree Expert Company, and Lee Electrical are assisting with power restoration efforts.

Cooperatives warn customers not to try and clear trees or other debris from power lines. Instead, they advise people to note the location and other pertinent information and contact the electric cooperative. SVEC members can call the cooperative at 800-234-7832. REC members should call 800-552-3904 to report any outages in their area.

SVEC serves more than 92,000 member/owners' accounts in the counties of Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren and the city of Winchester. REC provides electric service to over 155,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties.

Dominion Virginia Power reports on its website, www.dom.com, that 50,512 of its 182,636 customers in the Shenandoah Valley and Western Piedmont areas are still without power. Outages throughout Dominion's coverage area approached 1 million. A release issued Sunday states that Dominion has more than 3,000 employees, contractors and retirees working on restoring service.

"Dominion Virginia Power expects to restore service by Tuesday night for 80-85 percent of customers whose power was disrupted by two days of severe storms at the end of last week. The company expects to restore service to 90-95 percent of affected customers by Thursday night, and virtually all remaining customers by Saturday night. However, it is expected that in areas of the most-severe damage, service may not be restored fully until next Sunday." the release states.

Dominion Power customers should call 866-366-4357 to report outages.

Due to the power outages and extreme heat, cooling centers were opened at Woodstock Fire Department and New Market Fire and Rescue on Saturday, and on Sunday stations were opened at the Edinburg and Star Tannery volunteer fire departments.

Shenandoah County Fire & Rescue asked that Mt. Jackson residents conserve water because power to the town well sites was out over the weekend.

A number of businesses were affected by power and Internet outages in Frederick County - some were closed while others could only accept cash payments. Delivery of the Northern Virginia Daily also was delayed on Saturday, according to publisher Mike Gochenour.

"Unfortunately, we lost power at our production facility at the beginning of the storm. When power was restored around noon on Saturday we were able to begin printing the newspaper. We appreciate everyone's patience," Gochenour said.

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Lt. Darcy Dellinger said some off-duty deputies were called in to deal with the storm's aftermath on Saturday.

"We assisted last night with clearing roads," he said. "They brought their own chainsaws and stuff like that."

Shenandoah County opened its emergency operations center, according to a news release from Fire Marshal David Ferguson. Ferguson said four major incidents were reported in Shenandoah County as a result of Friday's storm. Trees fell on buildings in Orkney Springs, Mount Jackson and Quicksburg. No injuries were reported.

Besides clearing roads, deputies also responded to downed lines and answered complaints, including alarms triggered by power outages..

In Winchester, the emergency operations center was partially activated, and public works crews worked to remove debris to allow for emergency vehicle access, according to a release from Winchester Emergency Management.

Winchester Fire and Rescue responded to 66 incidents in a 2 1/2 hour period Friday night, while police had 54 calls, the release states.

Several streets in Winchester were still closed to traffic on Sunday, according to a release by the city. They included parts of Kent, Cameron and Braddock streets. Cooling centers were opened at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 1508 Valley Avenue and at Lake Holiday on Sunday, the release states.

One car and one house were reportedly struck by trees, according to the release. City residents wanting to report damages or ask about recovery should call the emergency operations center at 545-4739.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report

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