As thousands of Northern Virginia residents wait for their lights to come back on, Virginia Cornell said she is worried about her elderly parents in Dumfries, who have been without power or heat for more than two days.
“My biggest concern is them freezing to death,” Cornell told Inside NoVa.
Cornell said that since Monday morning her parents Sue and Stanley Cornell, who are in their late 80s and early 90s, have been without power and are doing anything they can to stay warm – putting on extra clothing and throwing multiple blankets over themselves.
Food is also an issue, Cornell said, and her parents have had to eat cold sandwiches that don’t have much nutrition for the past few days because they can’t cook anything.
The elderly couple’s daughter Chris is their live-in caretaker, but both sisters say they’re worried their parents' health issues will get worse the longer it takes for the heat to come back on.
“My dad is a stroke survivor and my mom, she’s anemic, and has other severe health issues so this cold is not good for them,” Virginia Cornell said.
At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dominion Energy reported more than 41,000 Northern Virginia customers still without power, with the majority of those – just under 25,000 – in Stafford, or about half of the utility’s total customers in the county. About 3,300 customers in Prince William County were still without electricity and 3,200 in Fairfax.
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative reported 2,745 customers without power late Wednesday morning, with the majority of those in Stafford and eastern Prince William counties.
Cornell said her and her sister tried contacting Dominion several times but said they were not able to get through, and noted that on the energy company’s website their parents residence is not yet on the repair list.
“It’s just insane. I don't understand it…these people need help. I mean, this is a crisis,” Cornell said.
Peggy Fox, Dominion’s Northern Virginia spokeswoman, told Inside NoVa she believes most power will be restored today across the area, including Prince William County.
“Some of that will transfer to tomorrow,” Fox said. “It's just been the fifth worst winter storm causing 400,000 outages. So we are slammed. We feel for people and we are sorry people don't have power. We're working as fast as we can. We know people are cold. We are hoping that people can stay safe and that people can help out.”
When asked why their website has not been updated with estimated restoration times for power outages, Fox said the company has to wait for its crews to send in data which can be a slow process when there are mass outages.
“We don't want to give people false hope,” Fox said.
Fox noted Dominion does have crews assigned to the Dumfries area where the Cornells live and said it is likely power will be restored in that neighborhood by Wednesday afternoon.
But in areas such as Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Charlottesville, power may not be restored until tomorrow and in some cases Friday.
“We're just asking people to hang tight, please stay safe and we are getting your power back as quickly and safely as possible,” Fox said.
NOVEC officials say crews are concentrating on the hardest hit areas today.
“In these hardest hit areas, dangerous working conditions, including downed trees, tree limbs, blocked roadways, and the rerouting of traffic following an I-95 shutdown, have slowed down the restoration process,” NOVEC spokeswoman Priscilla Knight said. “NOVEC is concentrating efforts in these areas, but crews will keep working across the territory to restore power to all affected customers during this multi-day restoration process. We appreciate your patience.”
In the meantime, Cornell said she hopes the power company prioritizes homes where elderly people live because they are the most vulnerable.
“This just needs to be rectified,” she said.
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