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High winds wreak havoc across Louisa

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 4:43 pm

A large pine tree fell on Locust Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s Brush 5-1 truck on Friday, March 2 while Assistant Chief Charlie Pritt and firefighter Jason Slater were clearing trees that had fallen across Belle Meade Road. Photo submitted

Dangerous winds ripped through Louisa County last Friday keeping emergency responders, dispatchers and utility crews busy responding to calls for service.

Louisa County 911 dispatchers reported answering more than 143 calls for trees blocking roadways, 17 alarms, and nine brush fires as a result of downed power lines. A large pine tree fell on Locust Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s Brush 5-1 truck while they were working to remove downed trees on Belle Meade Road. No one was injured as a result.

“With the help of some strong teamwork,” Director of Communications Tonya Hovey said, “the call volume was what we in dispatch like to consider “controlled chaos.”

Hovey said that her department had developed a plan of notification with many of the key responders including Virginia Department of Transportation, emergency services, the department of forestry and the power companies which helped things flow more smoothly throughout the course of the windstorm.

“We tried our best to eliminate the, ‘What do we do with this?’ question to save time before things got out of control, which helped us keep things together,” she said.

Thousands in Louisa County lost power at some point, but crews with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and Dominion Energy were able to restore everyone’s electricity over the weekend.

A VDOT spokesperson reported last Friday that their crews were kept busy as they cleared trees and debris from the region’s roads as high winds continued to hamper travel across the state. Adding to the mayhem, power outages knocked out traffic signals in many communities.

A number of secondary roads were closed on Friday night in nearby counties as road crews worked 12-hour shifts to clear roads, repair signs and other damaged infrastructure, as well as support utility crews while they repaired fallen power lines.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s spokesperson Casey Hollins reported Monday that the utility company continued to discover broken poles and extensive damage as crews made their way into previously inaccessible areas, particularly in northwestern portions of the state.

In 12 of the 22 counties that the electric cooperative serves, Hollins reported, wind gusts approached or exceeded 60 miles per hour.

“The damage is truly catastrophic,” Robbie Beard, manager of REC’s western region said Monday.

This is a partial article. To read the full story, pick up a copy of the March 8, 2018 issue of The Central Virginian at one of many newsstands around the county, the newspaper’s office or subscribe today at http://www.thecentralvirginian.com/subscribe/