Becky Skinner needed to prepare for a job interview. She was looking forward to it – she had just left her job and landed her first interview.
There was one caveat. She didn’t have a working shower.
This week’s power outage from Monday morning’s snowstorm left thousands in Charlottesville and Albemarle County without power for days. Skinner is one of 176 Charlottesville residents still in the dark, and cold, as Dominion Energy and other energy companies work to restore power.
Skinner lives in a log cabin near Hydraulic Road. The cabin lacks proper installation, and Skinner and her family do not have direct access to their water breaker. So even if the power were to come back on, there is no guarantee the water would turn on as well.
Skinner and her fiance escaped on Thursday to her parent’s house in Northern Virginia in preparation for that night’s snowfall. Dominion Energy told Skinner her power should be back on between six to 11 p.m. for the past two days. The hopeful approximations would quickly turn into more unanswered questions and another frigid winter night.
Skinner scored a shower at an emergency warming center at Baker-Butler Elementary in Charlottesville before her interview. The elementary school is one of three warming centers opened following Monday’s snowstorm, and the only one with available showers.
As of Friday, Skinner’s power was still off.
“I don’t think I can trust what Dominion is saying,” said Skinner. “At this point, it’s not worth the risk for us.”
As of 4:45 p.m. Friday, more than 7,000 households in Albemarle County remained without power. Yesterday, that number was double, with nearly 16,500 without electricity.
In Charlottesville, 176 households have yet to have their electricity restored as of Friday.
Just before 5 p.m. Friday, the power company predicted all residents within the county and city would have their power restored later in the evening.
Charlottesville remains one of the cities hardest hit by the storm. Jeremy Slayton, a spokesperson for Dominion Energy, said treacherous road conditions have haltered some efforts. Energy workers have identified significant damages – such as broken poles, downed wires and busted cross arms – and access issues that also are slowing down repairs.
Slayton said Dominion dispatched over 400 trucks in and around Charlottesville.
“We remain committed to having nearly all of our customers restored by tonight and will continue to do whatever it takes to get the job done safely and efficiently,” Slayton told Charlottesville Tomorrow.
People left without power say it’s been a brutal week. Some sought warmth in nearby hotels or houses of relatives or friends. Some who had power offered aid to friends and neighbors who’ve expressed need, but the struggle continues.
This week’s power outage was unlike anything Kate Meier has ever seen.
The mother of two has been without power since Monday’s snowstorm. She said this is the longest she’s been without power since she moved into her Fry’s Spring home seven years ago.
The power outage came at a rough time for Meier. Her husband had yet to come out of isolation after catching COVID-19 over the holidays. Despite her husband having mild symptoms, Meier had to fill in for her husband and tend to a house and two kids alone.
Meier struggled to help her husband during the outage. She took her kids to a friend’s house to get some warmth, but had to leave her husband behind to sleep in 41 degree temperatures.
“That’s a lot,” Meier said, as she stood on the front steps of her house with her children on Thursday afternoon.
Meier’s thankful for those who’ve come out to help in her time of need. A neighbor helped remove a bamboo branch off her car, and another brought over a battery pack for her phone. Yet, Meier can’t help but wonder when the power will come back on.
“I’m not banking on anything at this point,” said Meier.