FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Thousands are still in the dark in Franklin County after the weekend’s winter weather.
Saturday’s ice storm weighed down trees until their breaking point, cutting out power to more than 42,000 people across Virginia.
“It was really bad,” said Appalachian Power line mechanic James Boyd.
Appalachian Power crews are working around the clock, dodging downed trees themselves, to restore power after the weekend’s winter weather.
As of Monday morning, more than 13,000 were still out of service across the Commonwealth; around 9,000 by nightfall.
Franklin County was hit hard. More than 5,000 customers were impacted.
“Wherever there’s a tree on it or when there’s wire down, you have to stop and ground the line on each side of it, fix it, and then move onto the next spot until you get all of it cleared up. Then you can heat that line back up. It’s just really time-consuming,” said Boyd. “It’s not as easy as just flipping a switch.”
Boyd said freezing rain made a muddy mess, which made it difficult for bucket trucks to get to downed lines. Some workers had to restore power by hand.
Appalachian Power had about 1,000 workers on the ground, prioritizing critical services like hospitals and fire departments first, then tackling larger outages.
“We look at larger outages, then work down from there,” said Appalachian Power Spokesperson Teresa Hall.
“I got a lot of family that’s out of power too. And they’re calling me all the time, ‘When’s it coming back on?’ And all I can say is we’re working 16-17 hours a day and we’re trying to get it as fast as we can, as safely as possible,” said Boyd.
Power is not expected to be fully restored until Tuesday night at 10 p.m. in Franklin County and Wednesday night in places like Floyd and Henry Counties, just ahead of more winter weather in the forecast this week.
“Right now, what’s concerning, is our employees are fatigued,” said Hall. “They’ve been working very hard as safely and quickly as possible to get the power back on knowing that another storm is just around the corner.”
More winter weather is in the forecast for Thursday and that means Appalachian Power is trying to make sure they have enough workers to handle any more outages that might pop up.