‘This is our Super Bowl’
“This is our Super Bowl,” said Andrew Molinares. “It’s our time to shine.”
Molinares, an operations/construction supervisor for Dominion Energy, spoke Thursday morning standing on a street in the Riverview neighborhood of Suffolk. He was surrounded by a neighborhood that suffered heavy damage from an EF1 tornado early Tuesday, spawned by Tropical Storm Isaias. Also crowding neighborhood streets were personnel and equipment from multiple electric utilities, tree companies and more, who coalesced in Riverview on Thursday to start the process of clearing the remaining trees needed to access equipment and repairing 25 broken poles and seven transformers.
Workers from as close by as Northern Virginia and as far away as Oklahoma have been in the Hampton Roads area since late Tuesday and early Wednesday working to restore power.
In all, more than half a million Dominion customers in Virginia and North Carolina lost power thanks to Isaias. By the number of customers out of power, this was the 10th-worst storm in Dominion’s history, the company has said.
Molinares is from the Fairfax County area and has worked for Dominion since 2001. He has responded to multiple storms outside of his own area, leaving his wife and son with only a few hours’ notice, as he did this Tuesday after Isaias.
“It sucks,” he said. “I don’t know any better way to put it. But they’re understanding. My son, he’s 18 now, so they know when the storms come and trouble happens, it’s time to roll.”
Molinares arrived in the area early Wednesday and worked from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. He was back up before the sun on Thursday morning, supervising Dominion crews as well as some from other utilities who came to help. In all, more than 7,000 workers are dedicated to the restoration efforts across Dominion’s territory.
“My intent tonight is to get some lights on,” Molinares said about the Riverview neighborhood. It would be a tall task, though. Dozens of trees were down across the neighborhood, having torn down numerous wires in addition to the broken poles and transformers.
Dominion spokesman Robert Richardson said the priorities in power restoration efforts are facilities like police and fire stations, 911 dispatch centers and hospitals.
“After that, you go for the biggest group of customers you can,” he said. “If you can do some work and get 400 people in a neighborhood on, you do that.”
Richardson said local people had been grateful for the work of the power crews.
“I’ve talked to a handful of residents,” he said. “They’re all in good spirits, they’re all very patient, and we appreciate that very much. We’re here to get the lights back on and bring some normalcy to these people’s everyday lives.”