Power companies, VDOT ‘preparing for the worst’ ahead of expected winter storm

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On the heels of last week’s severe winter storm, agencies across Virginia are preparing for the possibility of round two this weekend.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), workers were set to begin pretreating roads on Thursday, Jan. 13 through Friday, Jan. 14. Meanwhile, power companies say linemen are getting pre-staged.

Officials say many parts of the Commonwealth that just got their lights turned back on may feel some whiplash with another storm likely on the way.

“The amount of damage was incredibly challenging,” said Casey Hollins with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC).

She says the co-op is preparing for the storm to touch all of the 22 counties in its coverage area.

This is concerning for areas that were already hit hard, according to Matt DiNardo, a meteorologist with WFXR’s sister station, WRIC. He says the lines that just went up will likely be safe, but ones that were weakened last week are more likely to now come down.

“Things are gonna break easier, limbs, trees, then crash into power lines,” he said on Thursday. “I think we’re looking at a big-time problem for power outages just west of the metro area: places like Louisa, Fluvanna, Goochland.”

Hollins says REC finished its final repairs on Wednesday, Jan. 12 after nearly 100,000 customers lost power in Louisa and surrounding areas last week. They are calling in help from out of state this week and workers will be pre-staged, according to Hollins.

“We’re making sure we have all of those field crews, as well as our office staff [is] well-rested so everyone can be at 100 percent,” she said.

For people who live closer to the metro Richmond area, Dominion Energy says their workers are on standby as well.

“We’ve put our full cohort of Dominion Energy crews and contractors on standby to respond and request assistance from other utilities, should it be needed,” said Jeremy Slayton, a representative with Dominion.

Exhausted by the last storm’s outages, Dominion and REC told WFXR’s sister station their warehouses are being restocked.

“We also have additional shipments of utility poles coming in by the end of this week,” Hollins said. “As with every storm, we reviewed our efforts during the last storm to find ways we can improve.”

Dominion says they have also reviewed their efforts from the last storm to find ways they can improve.

“For example, we know some customers were frustrated by changing estimates for power restoration,” Slayton said. “We will work to make sure we have strong information from the assessments by our patrol crews so we can have confidence in the estimates we provide customers. This includes getting our assessment teams out as early as possible to assess not only the damage to our electric facilities but also the roads to those facilities.  We need to ensure we have access to quickly restore service.”

After all, nobody wants another situation like the one that left hundreds stranded on I-95.

Bethanie Glover, VDOT spokesperson, says the forecast is showing that pretreating roads can be effective in preparing for this storm — unlike the last one.

According to Glover, pretreating will “prevent an icy bond from forming between snow and the pavement.”

She says that work began Thursday night and will continue into Friday.

“We’re preparing for the worst honestly,” Glover said.

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