Ophelia outages remain, with cleanup in Cumberland, Buckingham

Published 8:14 pm Saturday, September 23, 2023

While the wind has died down and the rain has slowed to a drizzle, Tropical Storm Ophelia cleanup continues across the region. By 2 a.m. Sunday, power had been restored to all but a handful of homes in Edward County. Buckingham and Cumberland counties, as we head into the morning hours. 

At its peak, the storm was one of the strongest we’ve seen in a while.  A look at data from Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) shows 36% of their customers in Cumberland, roughly 515 homes, saw their power go out. On the Dominion side, 215 customers around the Dillwyn area of Buckingham did the same. As for those handful of homes remaining, both Dominion and SEC officials say they’re making progress, asking people to be patient. 

“Crews have restored over 2,900 members since the start of the storm,” SEC officials said in a statement posted to their Facebook page. “We thank our line workers for their diligent work as they prioritize safety and continue working throughout the night.” 

Email newsletter signup

SEC officials said on Saturday, there were 17 crews handling restoration work. Three construction crews and three tree crews helped with that. They added that to speed up work, eight two-man contract crews were brought in Saturday night.  

Ophelia caused problems

Fire departments responded throughout the day, as trees fell on roads due to 40 mph wind gusts. One example was Abilene Road, where the Hampden-Sydney Fire Department removed trees that had fallen between old Throckmorton Store and Schoolhouse Road. Residents in Meherrin say they were happy to see the wind calm down and the lights go on. 

“The ground got saturated quick. There for a bit, my walnut trees looked like fishing rods,” said John Karratti. The Meherrin resident and Herald photographer said he and his family lost power for about two hours, before SEC got the lights back on. 

In Prince Edward County, near Hampden-Sydney, Scott Denny said he and his family were thankful Ophelia just caused a power outage. 

“We had a tree drop near the front window. Grateful it wasn’t a little closer,” Denny said. “Lights were off for part of the afternoon, but Southside folks seem like they fixed that pretty quick.” 

As for the future, it looks like the wind is dying down for good. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) station out of Wakefield, the wind threat is gone. Still of concern, is the rain, which could trigger floods. A look at the radar shows it’s expected to keep raining through 6 a.m. Sunday morning, which has caused the NWS to keep the flash flood watch in effect.

“Flash flooding caused by excessive rainfall continues to be possible,” NWS officials said Saturday night in a statement. “Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas.” 

Specifically, the NWS points to Cumberland and Prince Edward counties in this region as being at risk for flooding. That watch is in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday.