Emergency centers open in Dinwiddie as thousands left without power

By Zach Armstrong

DINWIDDIE, Va -- Due to the ongoing power outages in Dinwiddie County, the county opened four sites for citizens to charge electronic devices, use electric medical equipment and get bulk water.

The facilities that operated as emergency centers were Dinwiddie Fire Station, Ford Fire Station, Dinwiddie Elementary School and McKenney Fire Station.

According to Director of Dinwiddie Social Services Natachia Randles, the centers had averaged about 100 patrons a day. Randles said in an email that “we are not aware of anyone who was ‘left out’ of the Emergency Shelter or who ‘wished they had entered’”.

COVID-19 protocols were in place at the warming centers. Patrons underwent temperature screening prior to entry, masks were required at all times inside the centers, and social distancing was enforced.

The Daytime centers provided warmth, power for charging mobile devices and bulk water for patrons who would bring and fill their own containers. The Overnight Warming Center had provided shower facilities, cots and meals in addition to warmth, power and water.

Back to back ice storms had impacted Dinwiddie County substantially greater than its neighboring localities. As high as 70% of county residents were reported to be without power on the morning of Feb. 16. As of Feb. 21, approximately 22% of the county was reporting to be without power.

As of Feb. 18 at 1:10 p.m., following the ice storm the previous evening, 37% of people were reported without power in Dinwiddie whereas only .8% of Prince George County residents were reporting to be without power, 2.86% of residents in Sussex County reported to be without power and 1.47% of Surry County residents were reporting to be without power.

“Dinwiddie was in the “bullseye” of the first ice storm,” said Marie Grant, Grants & Community Information Coordinator for Dinwiddie. “Along with Amelia, Nottoway, Prince Edward, Lunenburg, Charlotte and portions of Brunswick, which resulted in more extensive damage and power outages in these areas.”

Frustration has mounted from Southside Electric Cooperative customers. Whereas all of Dominion Energy’s customers in the county had their power restored, as of Feb. 21, Poweroutage.com reported that 2,914 Dinwiddie residents who were SEC customers were still without power. Brad Furr, Vice President of Operations, told ABC8 news that 90% of members will have power by Feb. 25 and the rest will have electricity by the 28th.

Dominion Energy, which has 7,025 total customers in Dinwiddie County, had 6,446 customers lose power in between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18. By Feb. 17, there were only 79 customers in the county out of power and at present have no customers out.

In between those same dates, there were 10,022 total Dominion customers out of power in Petersburg, 2,578 Dominion customers in Prince George lost power, 372 Dominion customers lost power in Surry and 425 Dominion customers in Sussex lost power.