Citizens frustrated with power outages

Published 5:50 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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Nine days without electricity and no heat has resulted in food fuel levels running low, and emotions running high.

Lunenburg County residents have been dealing with outages stemming from a Valentine’s weekend storm that left thousands without power that has now turned into days of survival mode.

Barbie Cox, a Victoria resident, is like thousands in Lunenburg who rely on Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) for her family’s power.

Cox lives on secluded land in Lunenburg and lost power early Saturday morning, Feb. 13.

“Trees and power lines began to snap at an alarming rate, and by nightfall, we decided to abandon our home for our safety,” Cox said. “My husband and I prepared for the ice storm, but we learned quickly that no amount of preparation would have sufficed.”

As of Monday, Feb. 22, Cox was still staying with family in Cumberland County and traveling back and forth to her home each day checking on things.

“I will admit that we have experienced a whirlwind of emotions due to the length (of the) power outage,” Cox said. “But I am grateful for our safety, my family who has taken us in, and the wonderful support from the community of Lunenburg County.”

Diana Prosyk commented on Facebook, saying her daughter and her family had come to stay with her during the power outages.

“It has been difficult with an eight-month-old baby and 11-year-old grandchildren.” Prosyk said, “No water, heat, power, and we have to cook on a kerosene heater.  It is not fun, but we are surviving.”

Prosyk said she has seen prices for kerosene and food increase over the past week as well.

“The price gouging that’s going on is unreal,” she said, “I watched the price of kerosene jump over a dollar waiting in line to purchase it. A loaf of bread that was $2 is now $3, and there is no aid from the county unless you already have SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.  Which we don’t, and no one can afford to replace two freezers full of food.”

Elizabeth Hofler is surviving off of a generator and a kerosene heater for heat and cooking.

Hofler commented on Facebook about her frustrations with SEC and a downed power line that is a potential fire hazard.

“They have not fixed the line down that connects directly from my house to the pole down to the neighbor’s transformer,” Hofler said. “Not only has it pulled at my roof and siding, but it’s resting on a wire fence which posed an additional fire hazard and danger to us and our neighbors.”

As of Tuesday morning, Feb. 23, the number of customers without power in Lunenburg County had been reduced to 1,512 compared to 2,312 on Monday.

Several SEC customers held a protest at the company’s headquarters in Crew on Monday, Feb. 22.

Following the protest SEC CEO Jeff Edwards released a statement concerning the issues the cooperative has had restoring power over the past 10 days.

“Power restoration efforts are complex. There is no way around that fact,” Edwards said. “Individual poles must be dragged hundreds of feet into muddy terrain to be set by hand. This work is dangerous even in the best of conditions, and the wet weather we continue to see has made for extremely hazardous conditions. We know these conditions are dangerous for you as you try to maintain normal life without power. Our hearts break for you because we truly know what you are facing. We want to assure you that we are working as hard and fast as we can, but safety always must come first.”