Weathering the storm

By Ruthann Carr

It was more than a beautiful snowfall. 

On Jan. 3, as much as 12 inches of heavy, wet snow fell onto ice-laden branches toppling trees and taking out power to Fluvanna and much of Central Virginia.

Some lost power for six to 12 hours, others for days

Dominion Energy serves much of Fluvanna. 

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) handles the rest. 

It didn’t matter which company supplied the power, the results were the same: few had it.


Birthday Gift

Because Jan. 3 is my birthday, my husband and I spent New Year’s weekend in a rented room in the Northern Neck. We planned to stay Sunday night and travel home the next day. But after listening to the weather forecast, we made (for us) an unusually wise decision to drive home Sunday night. 

Like everyone else, we went to bed to rain and awoke to a winter wonderland. That morning the lights flickered off and on a couple times, then power was out for good. 

We’re an all-electric home and are on a well. That meant no water, no heat, lights, or way to cook. 

CVEC provides our power and it rarely goes out. If it does, it’s not for long. It came back on that evening. Shortly after, we heard a plow clearing our street. 

I knew others weren’t so lucky, as I saw businesses, schools and government office closings reported on TV.

Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce 

Besides writing for the Fluvanna Review, I work for the Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce. 

On Jan. 5, the Chamber Treasurer, Rudy Garcia, emailed me and the Chamber Board checking to see how we were all doing.  

Garcia lives off Rt. 6 in the Rivanna Woods housing community. 

They were hit hard. 

Garcia said it took VDOT until Tuesday afternoon to clear the route into the subdivision of about 10 downed trees.

“We are still w/o power, the internet and landline are still down and cell service is spotty at best,” Garcia wrote. “We are staying warm enough not to be served as frozen meat (thanks to a wood burning fireplace!) and are working through our 20th gallon of gas for the generator.  Hint, a 10K generator burns right at 10 gallons every 12 or so hours of running.”

He said at least another 10 trees were down throughout the road in his neighborhood.

“So hopefully now Dominion can get in and get the power fixed,” he wrote. “…All in all, one of the most impactful snowfalls in the 20 years we have lived here. Stay safe, stay warm and watch out for falling ice balls!”

After spending some hours warming up in his office on Turkeysag (near the county registrar’s office) Garcia and his wife are at home. Their power was restored on Friday (Jan. 7) at 3:30 p.m.

Columbia Goats

Jennifer Lyons owns Totes McGoats Body Soaps in the Village of Palmyra. She and her husband live on a farm in Columbia where they raise the goats who supply the soap ingredients. CVEC supplies the power to Lyons’ farm and it was off until Wedneday (Jan. 6) evening. Lyons doesn’t just raise goats, make and sell soaps and lotions from their milk. Most of her time is spent running the COVID-19 unit at Sentara Martha Jefferson where she’s been a nurse for 26 years.

Alpacas Kept Warm

Thanks to their thick coats, alpacas stayed toasty during the storm and power outage at their farm in Wildwood on Rt. 15, reported Sacred Acres Farm owner MaryJane Cathers. 

The farm didn’t go unscathed, however.

“Power was out here for 30 plus hours, Cathers wrote. “The farm took a big hit from that snow hurricane on Monday. I’m hoping to get things clear enough to have the store open on Saturday. All other farm activities closed for at least two weeks while we get fallen trees off fences, gates and picnic tables. CVEC was here early yesterday cutting off the three trees that fell against the utility lines. My neighbor plowed my driveway yesterday. My focus today is clearing snow off the front/back porches on the house and the ramp to the store.”

Sustainability Softens the Blow

Sarah Sweet owns The Scrappy Elephant on Main Street in the Village. Like the other businesses and offices located there, Sweet’s creative reuse shop didn’t open all week due to the power outage. 

She lives on Courthouse Road just east of the Village and was without power until Sunday (Jan. 9) evening. 

On Friday (Jan. 7), Sweet was at home without CVEC electricity.

“We are also still without power here,” she wrote. “We lost most of our dogwoods and Bradford Pears, but thankfully nothing fell on the house.  We are extremely fortunate to have bought a house with a generator and we have a wood stove to heat our home (though we are quickly running out of wood). “

Camp Friendship down but not out

Sarah Ackenbom lives on Camp Friendship’s 500 acres off Rt. 15 a few miles north of Palmyra. 

CVEC provides electricity to the camp and Ackenbom said when it goes out, it’s often out for a long time.

“That’s usually the trend since our power lines don’t service much else,” Ackenbom wrote. “We’ve had a huge amount of damage here from downed trees, including my house. I do hope other homes and businesses didn’t get hit or damaged as badly as we did here; it’s a mess!” 

On the 20 developed acres of Camp Friendship, 100 trees were down and 10 buildings damaged.

Ackenbom said power was restored Sunday (Jan. 9) around 9 a.m.

Schools Without Power for the Week

Superintendent Peter Gretz said Fluvanna school buildings were without power through Friday (Jan. 7) except Carysbrook. That building got power Saturday (Jan. 8). However as of Sunday, Carysbrook still didn’t have phone service.

Heavy snow damaged batting cages at the high school.

Monday (Jan. 10) is a teacher workday. Students returned Tuesday (Jan. 11).

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