Taking Action

‘Southside Electric really failed their people’: CEO apologizes after thousands go into day 9, 10 without power

Taking Action

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — As of Monday, people in areas like Nottoway and Dinwiddie are now on their ninth or tenth day without power.

The CEO of Southside Electric, Jeff Edwards, told 8News Monday he’s sorry it’s taken so long to get power back on.

Across Nottoway, trees are completely uprooted, making it look like a hurricane or tornado ripped through the area.

“I’ve never, never seen anything like this,” said Blackstone resident LaShawn Blackwell as she toured the damage in Blackstone on Monday. “It’s just total devastation.”

Edwards told 8News the cooperative was prepared for these storms, bringing in extra crews as early as Wednesday of last week.

Edwards said they usually have around 86 personnel working on a normal day, and now they have 922 crews, with additional help coming from as far west as Indiana and as far south as Florida.

Blackwell has lived in Blackstone for almost two decades and said Southside Electric and government officials have failed the residents.

“It’s really sad. Southside Electric really failed their people. They failed their people. Thank God that we have a generator, we have a fireplace, we have a grill that we can cook on and everything. And I thank God for my ministry which has been providing us with funds as well as the members to be able to do what we’re doing and be okay here,” Blackwell said.

She’s worried about older folks in her neighborhood without power, like her aunt.

“A tree fell on her house. And my aunt is in her 80s. You know, so she’s with us. And she has a roommate and she has her granddaughter. So, if we would not have been here, what [would’ve happened]? My cousin, she has asthma real bad, she had to come to our house,” Blackwell said. “And she’s next door to me. It’s just, no words can describe what has happened here.”

8News asked Edwards what he would say to those who are without power and those with power who may not have any food left after losing power for so long.

“I’d like to say to start with, you know, I am sorry it has taken so long for us to get the power back on. As a CEO, I don’t want anyone’s power off for 1 minute, much less 10 days or longer. We’re going to stay concentrated on this effort,” said Edwards.

He said the recent bad weather hampers crews, causing them to work slower and more carefully at repairing power lines.

Edwards said 99.9% of residents in their service area will have power back by the end of the day Friday, Feb. 26.

Until the lights are back on, Blackwell said she’ll continue helping her neighbors stay warm.

“I’m very concerned about my neighbors and my neighborhood. This has been nine days that we have been without power,” Blackwell told 8News.

Blackwell said her ministry, Mount Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries, will be in Blackstone Saturday, Feb. 27 from noon to 2 p.m. giving out food to residents as part of their “Operation Thunder” ministry.

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