Power restored to nearly everyone

Published 11:08 am Saturday, July 26, 2014

When Christina Brinker and her family of O’Berry Church Road returned home on Thursday afternoon, they found a portion of their fence torn out. -- SUBMITTED | CHRISTINA BRINKER

When Christina Brinker and her family of O’Berry Church Road returned home on Thursday afternoon, they found a portion of their fence torn out. — SUBMITTED | CHRISTINA BRINKER

HUNTERDALE—Christina Brinker of O’Berry Church Road was elsewhere when the storm hit Western Tidewater on Thursday morning. Which is perhaps just as well.

She and her husband were among the few thousand residents in Southampton County who lost electrical power because of the weather.

At one point winds ranged from 50 to 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

“We weren’t there. We were in Norfolk,” said Brinker. “Our house is for sale, and our realtor called me.

“’What happened to your neighborhood? Did a tornado go through?’”

The agent, who is also a family friend, took photographs and emailed them to Christina.

“My jaw just dropped,” she said. “Forty percent of the fence was down and scattered in a neighbor’s yard and across the road in a cornfield. The metal gazebo, which is bolted to a deck, was torn down with patio furniture twisted in.

“It was pretty crazy. Absolutely crazy.”

On returning home, she and her husband, Richard, indeed found parts of the fence torn out of place. One portion was discovered at the back of the aforementioned field. Power was also off, so the Brinkers returned to Norfolk where her parents live. She figured the electricity came back on that night sometime from 7 to 9 o’clock.

Jean Thrasher, vice president of operations and engineer of Community Electric Cooperative, said on Friday afternoon that “3,200 of our customers were out at one time or another for some duration.”

Three substations that Dominion Power feeds into went out at Shady Side, Courtland and Black Creek. The first two were restored within four hours, and the third by 7:30 p.m.

Of the three remaining customers without power, Thrasher said, one has damage to the property and that must be fixed before a crew can do its work. With that one exception the power company hopes to have everything on by that night.

He added that five power poles had to be replaced, and two were splintered. That is, the poles were cracked just enough that bolts were used to secure them until replacement.

Daisy Pridgen with media relations for Dominion Power said that electricity has been restored to the 52 customers who lost power on Thursday.

Power lines weren’t the only things knocked down on Thursday.

On Sedley Road, the storm crumpled a grain silo belonging to Bruce Whitley, who said he’s been farming for 21 years and “this is the first time a grain bin has been lost.

The silo measured 48 feet in diameter. The other standing bins are at 36’ and 21’ feet round. Why the one and not others touched is a mystery to him.

“Not a clue. It’s really strange,” he said.

Whitley added that’s he going to replace the silo, and hopes to have a new one back in place by September.

Mike Johnson, administrator for Southampton County, noted, “We didn’t really have the hail this time [which damaged windows of county vehicles].”

He added that a tree fell on a mobile trailer belonging to the Sheriff’s Office, and some scaffolding had collapsed.

Southampton County Sheriff Jack Stutts confirmed that a tree fell and destroyed the evidence scene trailer, valued at $6,000.

“The contents, we think, are going to be in pretty good shape,” he said. “We do have it [the trailer] in an enclosed building.”

Near the trailer, scaffolding with a $200 value was flattened and destroyed as well.

Stutts also said Deputy Sheriff Michael Blythe had broken a bone in his left hand, and would be out of work for awhile.

Overall, “Southampton County has been fortunate,” the sheriff said.