Chesterfield County reviews record-breaking response to recent ice storms

Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County received 232 calls for downed trees during the first ice storm earlier this month. (Photo: Chesterfield County)

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County has spent more than 3,200 working hours on snow, ice, and tree removal in the aftermath of recent ice storms, according to a presentation before the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

The County’s response has not only included such assistance from General Services, Environmental Engineering, and Parks and Recreation, but also Emergency Management, first responders, and Communications.

“This was the worst ice storm Chesterfield has experienced in nearly two decades,” Chesterfield County Emergency Management Coordinator Jess Robinson said.

More than 230 calls were received, just from the Feb. 13 storm, for fallen trees in the County.

Widespread power outages escalated rapidly,” Robinson said.

The most broad power outages were in locations where trees had fallen, resulting in other hazardous conditions, such as downed power lines. By 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, there were reportedly 18,687 outages for Dominion Energy customers in the County. Just four hours later, there was a severe spike.

This graphic shows the power outages, hazardous conditions, and downed trees throughout Chesterfield County as the result of the Feb. 13 ice storm. (Photo: Chesterfield County)

“Thirty-five percent of all the Dominion customers of Chesterfield County were without power, including several County facilities, such as the Jail, Emergency Communications Center, and multiple utility pump stations,” Robinson said. “Those critical infrastructure facilities ran on generator power without any major issues, and buildings without generator power did not report any disruption in services.”

Within two days, Robinson says Dominion Energy achieved 98 percent power restoration in the County. That was done with the help of additional crews, which is also how Chesterfield County approached storm preparation and response.

According to the ice storm presentation during Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Fire & EMS responded to a record 449 incidents on Feb. 13 alone.

“This is 123 more calls than the previous record set during Hurricane Irene in August 2011,” Robinson said. “It is important to remember, though, that one incident may be handled by multiple fire crews and law enforcement units.”

Moving forward, Robinson suggested the County could benefit from incorporating generator power in new library builds and renovation projects.

“Not all libraries need generator power, but some geographically strategic locations would be of great benefit,” she said. “The warming locations at libraries were very well-received by residents.”

As recovery efforts begin, the cost of both storms are being tracked individually. Initial damage assessments were supposed to be due to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) on Wednesday, but an extension was granted to Chesterfield County until Friday, given the severe weather impacts sustained.

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