As Louisa County opens back up after a long week of power outages forcing business closures, loss of revenue and loss of product, the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce (LCCC) is organizing resources to prepare for this weekend and the incoming Winter Storm Izzy.
The LCCC was not immune to the destruction of Winter Storm Frida. The awning at their Main Street collapsed early Monday, power was lost, and events were cancelled. Executive Director Tracy Hale Clark was snowed in at home with no power as well. It was obvious, this was going to be a long restoration and the men and women working endless hours to restore power, clear roads and keep people safe needed support.
“I had to do something to help the folks working so hard under treacherous circumstances,” states Tracy Hale Clark. “I called REC to ask where I could deliver food and water to crews and reached out on social media for donations and volunteers to help.”
Most restaurants were shut down for days making the support for food to workers critical. Walmart Distribution Center and the Louisa County Resource Council provided significant donations of “grab-n-go” items and water. As restaurants power was restored, they called to contribute despite their own loss of revenue and product. Obrigado’s Restaurant & Floozie’s Pie Shop offered to feed 100 linemen with fresh packed lunches, and worked in the off hours, despite their own challenges, to get them fed.
“We helped because we are all part of this community, neighbors helping neighbors. It’s just the right thing to do,” states owners Jade Lourenco and Debbie Wollett.
Late Sunday evening, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) contacted the Chamber asking for help. The crews from out of town, working 16 hour shifts were running out of clean clothes. After one call to Marie Snyder, Louisa resident and owner of Lake Anna Linens, a strategy to support lineman spread across 13 hotels from Fredericksburg to Ashland to Richmond was put in motion. In less than 24 hours, roughly twenty volunteers picked up, washed, dried, and returned clean clothes for sixty out-of-state linemen at no cost to them.
“We’re just thinking of all the ways to help these linemen who are away from their families helping us,” says Marie Snyder. “I can’t imagine being out in the cold for days on end wearing the same laundry. Some of the laundry that’s coming in is still wet. These guys really did need help.”
Two days later, there were more requests for laundry, once again volunteers and Lake Anna Linens rallied to accommodate and help.
“At REC we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of voluntary support provided to our crews working in the last storm,” Casey Hollins, Managing Director – Communications and Public Relations for REC. “It meant so much to us to see the community rally around our workers when faced with extended power outages. The feedback we heard from the workers was that they’ve never been treated so well when responding in a crisis like this.”
“We’re prepared for this second storm, even though we are very hopeful the forecast will take a turn for the better,” added Hollins. “As we’re preparing to be out there in full force again, it’s hard to believe so many people are thinking about what they can do to help us.”
Based on the experience of Winter Storm Frida, the LCCC is lining up resources, communication strategies and volunteer lists to be prepared to implement support as early as possible with an emphasis on those businesses that are critical to the recovery and restoration after a devasting storm. Resources like refrigerator trucks, freezer trucks, food, water, generators are being requested from areas with less impact to support the business community, specifically our restaurants.
Special thanks and appreciation to the businesses that were shut down but still supporting efforts (not a complete list, it keeps growing!!):
Annie Mac’s Kitchen
Beaverdam Food Pantry
Cooling Pond Brewery
CruisePlanners Rhonda Reinhardt
Joey’s Hot Dogs Short Pump
Lake Anna Linens
Louisa County Public Schools
Louisa County Resource Council
Out of the Box Catering
Pro Radon Testing
Walmart Distribution Center