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3 Dead as Virginia Digs Out from Winter Storm

By: AP
By: AP

March 7, 2013

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP)— A winter storm that blew through Virginia left three people dead, including a Russell County man who was killed Thursday when his car crashed on ice-slicked roads.

The storm dumped up to 20 inches of snow in central and western Virginia. About 120,000 customers remained without electricity by mid-day Thursday, down from more than 200,000 outages at the height of the storm.

Officials had warned that roads could be slick during Thursday's commute as the melting snow froze overnight. Virginia State Police said James D. Hess, 22, of the Russell County community of Swords Creek was killed early Thursday after his vehicle ran off Route 632 in southwest Virginia, went over an embankment and landed upside down in a creek.

Two other storm-related deaths occurred in the northern part of the state, said Laura Southard, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. She did not have details Thursday.

As of midnight Wednesday, Virginia State Police responded to more than 650 storm-related traffic accidents and about 570 disabled vehicles across the state. State police say a majority of the crashes involved only damaged vehicles.

Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency on Wednesday. Doing so allowed for the activation of more than 160 Virginia National Guard soldiers, who helped local and state authorities clear roads and rescue stuck motorists.

More than 4,700 Dominion workers, including 500 from out-of-state, were trying to restore power to more than 42,000 of its customers that remained without power. More than 12,000 in Albemarle County remained in the dark.

Rodney Blevins, vice president for distribution operations for Dominion, said power had been restored to the Washington's Virginia suburbs, and that many areas should be restored by Friday night. Efforts will continue into Saturday in the most affected areas, including Charlottesville and the Shenandoah Valley, he said.

"We recognize that any service interruption can be disruptive for customers, and it is especially difficult when conditions are challenging," Blevins said in a release.

Another 58,778 outages were reported by Virginia's electric cooperatives.

Officials said high winds and heavy snows were to blame for many of the outages.

In Louisa County, Leonard "Sandy" Cason told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/10lWiDt ) he has a generator to power his home, as do many of his friends in the rural area. Fallen trees were all over the area.

"I think that every tree in my yard has some kind of damage, whether it be down or (broken) branches. What a real mess," Cason said. "I lost just about all of the spruce trees I have. There goes my greens for my (Christmas) wreaths."

Story copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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