At Least Five Deaths, More than 500,000 Power Outages Related to Tropical Storm Michael
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management reports at least five deaths and more than 500,000 power outages related to Tropical Storm Michael.
UPDATED: 5:30 p.m. Friday
The department tweeted those figures Friday morning as crews worked to clear roads and restore power across southwest and central Virginia.
A VDEM spokesman said four of the deaths were drownings and one was related to a traffic crash. Among the deaths reported by Virginia State Police is a Hanover County fire lieutenant. Brad Clark was helping at a crash on Interstate 295 Thursday evening when a tractor trailer rear-ended his fire truck. Three other firefighters and the truck driver were seriously hurt. The truck driver is charged with reckless driving and was cited for defective brakes.
In Pittsylvania County, James King, Jr.'s vehicle was swept away by floodwaters Thursday afternoon. His body was located late Thursday night.
One person died and another is still missing in Charlotte County after they were swept off a bridge. A third person was rescued.
State police were searching for another missing driver in Nottoway County.
Danville police confirmed two people died in flooding there Thursday evening. Officers say William Tanksley was swept away from his car on Colonial Court. Another person died when they were trapped in their vehicle by floodwater on Goodyear Boulevard. That person's name was not released by police.
Jeff Stern, the head of Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management, said the tragedy underscores the need to listen to warning messages. "One of the reasons we implore people to turn around and don’t drown, don’t drive through storm weather, to be cognizant of their surroundings and whether is it safe to be on the roads is because the tragic events that happened," Stern said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
As of Friday morning, Dominion Energy reported about 585,000 customer outages. The utility says it will be Monday before the majority of its customers can be restored. About 250,000 customers have already been restored. The company has 6,000 employees working on the outages and some crews have been brought in from other locations to help.
Appalachian Power was dealing with about 25,000 outages in western Virginia, as of Friday morning. A company spokesperson said it may be Sunday night before power is restored in the hardest hit areas of Henry and Patrick Counties. Other smaller electrical systems around the state were also dealing with significant numbers of outages.
In Danville, the Dan River crested at 30.01 feet overnight. That's a record level.