Frustration grows; power outages linger

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 23, 2021

After nine days of no electricity and spoiled food, fuel and patience are running thin.

Allison Hunter, a Darlington Heights resident, is like thousands in Prince Edward who rely on Southside Electric Cooperative for her family’s power.

“It was very discouraging when we heard it could be March 1 before we had our electric back, especially since I called like one minute after the power went down and told SEC where the problem was,” Hunter said.

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She said the line was broken right behind her mom’s house next to her property.

“We cried, we laughed, we fussed, cussed and prayed,” she said. “We worked together as a family to keep things going as normal as possible.”

Hunter said she was able to heat her home with gas logs, as were her parents, but when their fuel was depleted, they came to stay with her for two days.

Being avid campers helped Hunter and her family survive until their electricity was restored Sunday, Feb. 21.

“We had our camp stove and small propane bottles to cook with,” she said. “I have a percolator, so I had the essential coffee in the mornings. Once the small propane bottles ran out, we have an adaptor that hooks to a propane tank from a grill and adaptor supply tubing, which we then hooked to the camp stove.”

Being without power for nine days also means no water when you live in a rural area.

“We collected the water from the pool cover in various containers,” Hunter said. “We utilized the water for toilet flushes, dishwashing and for the pets.”

At night, Hunter said her family tried oil lamps for lighting, but the fumes gave them headaches.

After a few days and laundry piling up, it was off to the laundromat where Hunter said she spent more than $50 to wash two weeks of clothes.

“This is truly an ordeal I do not wish on anyone,” Hunter said. “But we were more prepared and fortunate than others, especially with the camping gear and pool.”

Green Bay resident Anthony DeMarco said he was without power for five days but fared better than most.

DeMarco said he utilized his whole house generator, but that it does not power the heater or stove.

“We are able to use plug-in heaters and the grill and microwave,” he said.

DeMarco said he was fortunate not to lose power a second time, so his propane supply is still around 15%; however, he is still waiting for a fill-up from his propane supply company.

“Because we still have gas, I was able to loan out two of my generators to some friends and an LP hose to a neighbor so they could use their Little Buddy heater with a 20-lb. bottle instead of those little 1 lb. bottles,” DeMarco said.

As of Monday morning, February 22, more than 4,000 SEC customers had their power restored. The number of customers without power in Prince Edward County was reduced from 1,343 Sunday to 877 Monday morning.

Still, more than 11,000 SEC customers remain without power.

“We know our members are hurting,” Southside Electric Cooperative Operations Vice President Brad Furr said in a press release Monday. “We remain totally committed to full outage restoration, and we will be here until that happens.”