Hundreds still without power after violent windstorm that blew through DC area
DELAPLANE, Va. (ABC7) —
Even after the violent windstorm that rocked the D.C. area last Friday, it was perhaps, an unusual sight—a Dominion Power bucket truck, bouncing along a wooded farm field in rural Delaplane, Virginia.
“They’ll get all the wires out, repair what’s broken,” said Dominion Supervisor Henry Ortiz.
Crews like these have been navigating city streets and country roads all weekend, working around the clock into Monday and Tuesday, while facing the threat of deteriorating weather during the mid-week.
The utility company says thousands of repair personnel are working; 300 bucket trucks are active in Charlottesville alone, a Dominion spokesperson says.
It’s paying off: slowly, but steadily, the outage numbers have dropped, from a high of 670,000 customers to around 980 Tuesday afternoon.
Dominion’s stated goal is to get all of its customers back in service by Tuesday night, days after 70-mile per hour gusts hammered the D.C. area.
“It’s mind-boggling, I’ve never seen a storm blow through like that,” recalled Karen Bell, of Falls Church.
Bell and her husband Simon couldn’t help but stop and stare at Brian Allen’s badly damaged home, nearly torn in two by a massive falling oak tree.
“Unbelievable, it looked like it cut the house in half,” Simon Bell declared. “It was pretty scary, a lot of sway, a lot of trees going.”
On the front curb of nearly every home in their neighborhood, there are piles of branches and leaves from toppled trees.
But Allen’s house fared a lot worse, from the high winds that slammed into the area around 11:30 Friday morning.
“The wind knocked over a 120-year-old White Oak,” he said. “Came down through the house and thankfully, came through only the second story.”
The right side of the house appears almost untouched.
The left side, though, looks as if a giant fist smashed straight down, crushing the roof, spilling wood, metal, and brick everywhere.
Despite that crushing force, none of Allen’s tenants were hurt.
“The wife was in the kitchen fixing lunch, and their son was in the living room watching TV, and miraculously, no one was injured,” he says. “Everyone was able to get out without a scratch.”
Allen says he’s waiting to hear if the house is a total loss; he says he has good insurance coverage.
Still, he admits the ferocity of those high winds was a bit unsettling.
“We have a lot of mature trees in the neighborhood, and they were bending like grass in the wind,” Allen sighs.
For utility crews, repairing broken power lines and splintered poles is challenging enough.
A slog through wooded areas and fields presents a new challenge.
First, the lines must be deactivated and grounded, in order to be safe for repairs.
“We got what they call sleeves,” Ortiz explained. “They splice them together, and in this case, they’ll climb and get their tools up there, and raise (the lines) up and put it together.”
And so, the work goes on, after a storm that won’t be quickly forgotten.
“We lost power for three days, but it’s back on,” Karen Bell said. “We were warned about it, but it took us all by surprise, I think. I think how destructive it really was.”