Spotsylvania County teams up with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and the Virginia Department of Transportation to help clear remaining extensive storm damage throughout the county and aid in power restoration. The Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, Fire and Rescue personnel, Utilities workers and Parks and Recreation staff are working alongside REC linemen and VDOT crews in an effort to clear roadways of downed trees and power lines and direct traffic as part of a task force in response to the record storm that began early Monday, January 3, 2022.
The task force which got underway earlier today, allows the county to assist both VDOT and REC with their missions of clearing roadways, restoring power, traffic management/security and removing abandoned vehicles. The county’s Utilities department is also working with VDOT to provide task-specific equipment to further this mission in significant trouble spots. Spotsylvania’s participation is not a typical function of local government, but is occurring because of a declared state of emergency in response to the winter storm.
Combining teams with all the necessary elements and experts including REC staff will allow crews to move through the process quicker and more efficiently. This avoids a delay that results when county staff or VDOT crews working to clear roads of trees and ice encounter a downed power line. VDOT is the agency responsible for clearing state-maintained county roads, but isn’t able to do that without help from REC when a downed power line is involved.
“We know that county residents have suffered through this storm and its aftermath--trapped in their homes without power, heat and internet services, in some instances for days,” says Chief Matt Embrey, Director of Spotsylvania’s Emergency Operations Center. “We want our residents to know that we hear you and that we are and have been doing everything that we can to work through this devastation and get everyone back on line and return to some sense of normalcy. Combining these efforts and necessary resources is a step in the right direction to make that happen as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Spotsylvania declared a local state of emergency Monday afternoon and opened an emergency warming shelter at a school maintenance facility later that same night in response to the thousands of REC and Dominion Energy Virginia customers without access to power and heat. The county’s Department of Social Services is managing the warming center located at 8720 Courthouse Road.
Snow began falling at approximately 2 a.m. Monday and continued for over 12 hours, dumping an estimated 14 inches of snow over most of the county. Snow fell at the rate of one and a half to two inches per hour for several hours, causing numerous vehicle accidents and complicating road clearing efforts, as well as downing trees and power lines. At the peak of the outage, there were over 39,000 county customers without power.