UPDATE: County Cleans Up After Destructive Storms

(July 1, 2012 11:00 a.m. )
Work continued through the night with significant progress being made, yet it will still be several days before service is restored to all REC members. Additional crews arrived from out of state and are being deployed this morning. With REC’s workforce now doubled, the focus remains on repairing the main circuits and ensuring service to critical facilities.

Those currently without power need to be aware that, for many, this will be an extended outage, and they should plan appropriately. Many local governments have opened cooling shelters. Listen to local media or check with local officials for shelter locations in your area. Shelter locations are also listed on REC’s website at www.myrec.coop and on REC’s Facebook page. By the end of today, REC will be able to project when the majority of repairs will be complete.

“We are very proud of the response by our employees, working long hours in record-breaking heat and difficult conditions” said Tim Martin, vice president of engineering and operations. “We appreciate the additional support of our contract crews and additional linemen from less-affected areas of Virginia as well as Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland” added Martin.

Additional information on district work schedules for today are available on REC’s website at www.myrec.coop and on Facebook as well.  These schedules will be updated each morning. Please remember to report any unsafe conditions, such as downed power lines to the Cooperative immediately. REC reminds everyone that safety is the number one concern and therefore, please make sure major appliances such as stoves and ovens are cut off to prevent damage as power is restored. If you are not sure what is on, switch off all but one of your home’s circuit breakers. Leave one branch circuit on with a radio or lamp plugged in so you will know when power is restored.


June 30, 2012

The powerful line of thunderstorms that tore through Clarke County Friday evening left a path of destruction across the Mid-Atlantic region knocking out power for millions of people.

The weather phenomenon called a “Derecho” (from the Spanish adverb meaning “straight ahead” or “straight line”) was spawned in the Ohio Valley and blasted through the Eastern Seaboard all the way to the coast of Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. It packed wind gusts of 80+mph, uprooting trees and launching anything that was not anchored to the ground.

Driving through Clarke County Saturday morning, roads were covered with debris and massive fallen trees marked yards and fields everywhere. The huge number of downed trees took out power for residents across the county starting at approximately 9:30 p.m. when the storm front moved through the area. As of 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2,105 Clarke County residents are still without power. REC officials say that over 45 percent of those who lost power from the storm late Friday night have had service restored, but added that they anticipate a multiple day restoration effort as a result of the destruction, extreme heat, and the threat of additional damaging storms tonight.

Fireworks tent in front of Food Lion shredded by high winds – Photo credit – Michelle Hayes

REC said their crews, contractors and additional assistance from other Cooperatives are working extended hours in record-breaking temperatures and tough conditions to restore power. Crews will be working on rotating schedules to continue repairs through the overnight hours. REC expects to determine their estimated total restoration time by end of day Sunday.

“This storm caused excessive damage,” said Tim Martin, REC’s vice president of engineering and operations.  “In addition to a large number of broken poles and cross arms, downed lines and damaged equipment have contributed to the widespread outages. Compared to last September’s Hurricane Irene that was concentrated in the Bowling Green District, this storm resulted in nearly 30,000 more outages and was reported in all 22 counties,” concluded Martin.

Officials at the Clarke County Central Communications number said that the county does not currently have an emergency location for residents without power, but encouraged residents to check on neighbors, particularly the elderly, during this outage. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 90’s for the next few days which can create dangerous conditions for residents without power.

Rice Street was closed due to a fallen tree.

Church Street had many fallen trees

Church Street

South Church Street

Bishop Meade Road, Millwood VA


Little Chapel Cemetery Millwood, VA


  1. Do we know if any shelter, like J-WMS or somewhere, might be set up for anyone who needs to be in A/C but lacks power?

    • Mike Dowling says:

      I spoke with officials at the Clarke County Central Communications last night and they said that the county did not have an emergency location for residents without power at that time, The Rec Center will be open if needed but there was no indication when or if it would be opened as a cooling station.

      There are locations in neighboring counties residents can take advantage of.

      For residents in the southern end of the county, Warren County has opened two cooling centers. One is located at South Warren Fire & Rescue (#3) on Stonewall Jackson Highway in Bentonville. The second is located at North Warren Fire & Rescue (#10) on Rockland Court in Rockland. These cooling stations will provide emergency shelter from the heat and provide ice cold water.

      Several cooling stations have also been established at public facilities in neighboring Loudoun County. the closest of which is at The Carver Center in Purcellville.

      The City of Winchester has also opened a cooling station at Jim Barnett Park. The Cooling Center will be operated as a joint project of the City of Winchester and Frederick County. The Center should not be considered as a shelter but rather as a cool and safe environment facility for people to gather if necessary.

      Also keep in mind that most businesses & restaurants are open & offer some refuge from the heat.

  2. Michael Hobert says:

    Rec Center will be opened if needed for cooling. Pool area available for those needing access to shower.

  3. Clarke County Annie says:

    There was/is no plan for our residents that will be without power during this extreme heat?

    Certainly hope our county administrator David Ash reviews this situation and with the assistance of our highly trained Fire Company members come up with “cooling stations” within our own county.

    While many of us are prepared for such a situation but I am extremely disappointed that our officials have not at least come up with a response plan. Mr. Ash please plan for any weather related emergency situations, i.e. winter outages where heat is lost for lengths of time, travelers stuck in snow on roadways.

    Thanks Mr. Dowling for giving locations in adjoining counties.

    Special thanks to all our Volunteer Fire and Rescue personnel that responded to every call during this storm event!

    • usedtoliketea says:

      to save the local wannabe anarchists (tea party wannabes) the trouble,

      surely you don’t think it is government’s responsibility to spend my tax dollars taking care of people who are hot! just because they lost their ac is not my problem, let them go to a hotel! Let them eat cake!
      buck it up! be a man, not a freeloader of society!

      the storm was god’s will. it was punishing those who do not believe that ours is the only, the just, the only, the just, (you get the idea) cause. Why, if we believed in Darwin, we would say “survival of the fittest”

      Let them drink Tea!

      • Another View says:

        Good Lord man! What do you think folks did before air conditioning? Which, by the way, was not that long ago.

      • Local Biker says:

        Glad to see you are cool. What about our older people in the county who cannot afford a hotel. And as far as tax dollars we can help those in need at a time like this. I am not a tea party member just a normal person who thinks we should take care of our own when times of need arise. Not wishing you any bad luck but I hope you come into need one day and nobody lends you a hand.

        • Another View says:

          First, older people tend to be wealthier than most. What makes you think older people are poor?

          Second, you are wishing me bad luck. You know nothing of my personal experience, but you wish me to be in need. What an awful outlook you have on life! I hope it improves.

          Third, if you read and comprehend my posts, you will see that I applaud the individual. I do not cheer for failure. Rather I cheer for individual success. Maybe you should too.

          • AV, perhaps you are lucky enough have a family, extended family, or friends with a little more comfortable life style. I know of many seniors that have to choose between medicine or warmth in winter due to heating costs. Others shut down many parts of their home because they can’t afford to heat it anymore. Same for the summer regarding AC.

            Some could get assistance but they are of the generation that you “make do with what you have and any assistance is a hand out, government assistance, only poor people get government assistance”. As stated by my beloved Aunt. As per your posts, you have to embrace that statement.

          • Another View says:

            Your beloved Aunt is right. Accept government assistance and you are on the dole. And it is nothing to be proud of.

  4. Thanks Mike Dowling for putting the cooling station info out there. I am glad to see that other counties are concerned about their voters because I dont think that Clarke County is. You would think that with the damage from the storm that Clarke County has they would have an emergency plan in effect and have atleast one cooling center open.

  5. Mountain Man says:

    This raises the question of WHO would be involved in the decision making process of opening and running an emergency shelter or cooling center? Clarke County has no Emergency Management person or office. Clarke County has no Fire & Rescue “chief” or office. There is usually only 2 (sometimes only 1) deputy and 2 dispatchers working countywide. There is a small band of volunteers who handle the small volume of fire & EMS calls. Our county administrator is most likely overwhelmed with day to day running of the county. These are a few of the things that make Clarke County very, very different from our neighbors that have emergency shelters and cooling centers. As I see it there is no vehicle to make something like an emergency shelter or cooling center happen in Clarke County. If one was to open who would oversee it? Not crtisizing; just describing the situatiion as I see it. I’d love to hear everyone elses thoughts.

    • hhmmm... says:

      Guess I never gave a thought to an emergency plan before. It has always been then that if you lost power or something you just went to a family member or a neighbor that had it.

      • hhmmm.. says:

        I wasn’t trying to be smart or snarky. That really is the way it was done but I can see having a plan in place. To animal lover- IS there anything that volunteers can do to help, do you know? I figure they have their hands full and didn’t wanna call them.

  6. animal lover says:

    The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center at 930 Tilthammer Mill Road in Boyce (540-837-9000) has been without electricity and running water since Friday night’s storm. According to their Facebook page, this is quickly becoming a dire situation. They are currently trying to provide care to over 200 orphaned and/or injured animals.

  7. Blossom Butt says:

    First, the County Administrator does not appear to be overworked, just not in touch with the residents’ needs or anything that is not legally required.

    Second, for those of you who think not having AC is whining, there are those, not me thankfully, that have breathing issues and must have AC in order to survive. These people are not simply old or incapacitate, but many children, middle aged adults and teens. To not have AC is like not having water to you and me.

    Please, before you start complaining about your tax dollars providing AC, maybe you should walk a few steps in their shoes. BTW, they are OUR tax dollars and they should be spent for the good of all, not just those that can fend for themselves.

    As an aside, the fact that Clarke County has no emergency plan, of any type for any emergency, is embarassing to say the least. How does it look for Clarke residents to have to travel to Loudoun or Warren for a comfort station because Clarke seem to feel this is not a necessary issue. Then again, it appears we have a M-F staff, and if it happens on the weekend, then you are out of luck until the next work day, between 10-4.

    • beenherealongtime says:

      Clarke County does have an emergency plan. If you are interested, call the Admin. office and they can show it to you. During the last big snow storm an emergency shelter was opened and no one came. Waste of money and time. Most county residents are capable of taking care of themselves and if they require special help that is available.

      • Blossom Butt says:

        Great, I can see the plan, but what about seeing it in action. Just because no one came to the last shelter, does that mean you never have another one? What kind of backward thinking is that? BTW, federal funds are available under “disaster” relief so that none of your precious local tax dollars are spent and we can continue to hoard them for “conservation easements”.

      • dontaskme says:

        uuhhhhh…maybe no one came cause they were snowed in by a couple feet of snow beenherealongtime…ever think of that?

      • They may have a plan, but in that plan, how do they communicate it to people. Most people do not even know about the Red Alert System in place. It is great to have a plan but if you have no vehicle of communication to all residents, it is worthless – thus, no one showing up at a shelter. What the community/county lacks is good communication.

      • Is it just me, or does it seem we don’t quite get the same response from REC in times of trouble that we got from Allegheny ? In the 23 years living at the same address in Clarke with allegheny as a provider. I could not recall an event where i lost electric for more than 24 hours at a time. In the short span, having REC as a provider It has happened twice now. Maybe the events are more catastrophic then in years past.

    • Another View says:

      Tax dollars should not provide for personal air conditioning, if you

  8. Our village has evolved
    – no longer are we settling along a river for water…now we have wells and city water both need power
    – no longer do we grow our own food…now we have stores of which we need power
    – no longer do we use horses…now we have cars of which need stations with power

    Seems like those that voice “not my tax dollar” are those that use power for water, food, transportation and communication devices. So to enjoy these fruits, our village will support the common good and help others in a time of need – and that will be on your tax dollar. That is more biblical for those that are true believers.

    BTW – lowercase “g” is a sign of ignorance

  9. In a disaster or a emergency situation such as this it would be the County Administrators job to authorize and or mandate that cooling stations be opened. Being that I heard that the Govenor declared a state of emergency I would think that this decision would be alot easier but the County Administrator is probably sitting at home in his AC not even thinking of the people without power.

  10. Many thanks to our “Volunteer Fire & Rescue Companies” during this storm and aftermath.
    I hear on the scanner calls are still coming in for lines down and burning, etc.

    The weather is hot and humid and your gear is heavy and hot. While I’m very glad we have not needed you, I want you to know that you are very much appreciated!

    Also, for those that have not signed up for the “Red Alert” please do so. It works great!.

  11. Pete Chapman says:

    Been reading all the comments about the recent storm and how it’s affecting everyone. I don’t think anyone really realizes the scope of what each state, county, city and town is dealing with. If anyone would take the time to familarize themselves with such things as disaster plans, plans of action in emergency conditions — then EACH PERSON WOULD KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO and WHERE TO GO.. In times of need, who gives a flying fig about the cost – deal with that later — Human lives are in need of help — Aren’t we our brothers keeper? That’s part of the problem now days — no one thinks about anyone but themselves. So stop your sniveling, pick up a bag and help clean up the mess the wind left like the “old timers” used to do.

  12. If anything, this has shown the need to be prepared. Basic camping supplies, a first aid kit and such. Have a supply of water on hand as well. Get a generator if you can afford it. And a box of MRE’s or freeze dried food helps out as well.

    • All these suggestions are great. But it’s difficult to keep enough water on hand when you rely on electric power to pull water from a well, for bathing, toliet flushing.
      If I have fair warning that an event is approaching, that may take out the electric for an extended period of time 24 hrs. or less . I will fill one of my bath tubs. This event, for me at least had no warning.
      To throw salt in the wound, electric was off for more than 50 hours.
      No lights, no AC, we can deal with that, no problem.
      Not having a water supply is a different animal. Real tough one for the women folk in the house.

      • Yeah it is. I don’t worry so much about it during the summer because I have the kids pool up. 500 gallons of water right there. For the winter months I bought 8 of those 5 gallon containers that most folks use for water dispensers from Wal Mart and keep them in the basement. That’s 10 gallons each, which should last for a couple of days.

        One never knows when the zombie apocolypse will be upon us;)

        • Bully for you, Sarge.

          That doesn’t change the fact that, despite every other county around us having a plan that could be announced on the stop, there was (at first) “crickets” from Mr. Ash, then a brief post from Mr. Hobert, then a rather unhelpful press release from the office Sunday night. Call a number if you need help…what then?

          Of course, this is from the bunch who works in the same building as the town, yet they don’t talk to each other and then dither publicly over who is paying the water bill.

      • “…This event, for me at least had no warning….”

        What, do you live in a vacuum or something? Do you not listen to the radio? Obviously you have internet so you could also check the weather forecasts for your area. Be proactive instead of reactive.

        • I was on the road traveling. I drove into the storm about 9:30 on friday night on my way home. If I lived in a vacuum. I guess the storm would not have had any effect on me at all. But I need air to survive , So the seal has been broken. Don’t jump to conclusions to quickly RW. You are being reactive to my post.

  13. Traveler says:

    Thank you, Grace for mentioned the “Red Alert”. I did not know this feature existed.

    This is how to sign up: http://www.clarkecounty.gov/news/code-red.html

  14. Realistic Joe says:

    In talking to different people, I am surprised at how many that don’t catch any news except maybe during dinner or early am and that appears to be about an hour total. Some commute and radio is not even on. Work, kids activities, errands, family member assistance, church activities seem to dominate many people’s time. It is a busy world.

    Filling up the bathtub is a fast way to hold water if you can keep the dog out of it (danged Labrador Retriever is still looking for the rubber duck). It’s a good idea to do this even when there may be a fire getting close, or to even save the bath/shower water and use in garden or yard.

    The “Code Red” can be set up for home, businesses and cell numbers. It has worked with the last three storm events for me and it’s an easy “safe” set-up. It can keep you in the loop and not just for storms. Lost kids, missing Alzheimer patients etc. Great program!

  15. Gingerbread says:

    Ya know, I hear a lot of “why did’t, who didn’t, etc”. Why point fingers? Get up, start cleaning and quit whinning. Why wait for “George” to do work that everyone can do. Another thing — use some common sense and think about what one might need in an emergency. The 10 gallon containers mentioned a few postings before this one for water is a gem and MRE’s are great — in an emergency — after all — our military use them all the time. When I was a young girl, neighbor helped neighbor helped neighbor and so on, forming a chain. Now-a-days it seems like a ‘me first’ attitude. What happened? Wise up, take the reins and start caring for your fellow human being. You’d be surprised to find out how much you have in common. I’ll do my part — how ’bout you?