Chesterfield said goodnight to Irene at about 3 a.m Sunday morning. While many thought she would just skirt the coast, the storm was so large even Chesterfield felt her wrath. After a soaking rain, the roots of hundreds of trees could no longer stand against the 40 mph sustained winds and gusts that reached as much as 70 mph.
Southeast Chesterfield accumulated 5 - 6 inches of rain over a twenty-four hour period, and trees took out power lines putting over 300,000 without electricity in the Richmond and Tri-Cities alone. A reported 656,000 homes and businesses in Virginia were without electricity on Sunday.
As of Monday, August 29, Virginia Dominion Power had yet to determine when many in the area would regain power but said it would be at least days before power would be restored.
Scott Rowland watched from his home on Osborne Road in Chester as a tree lay itself across power lines in front of his house at about 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“All I could see was a ball of fire rolling back and forth on the line,” Rowland said. “It was five minutes, maybe eight minutes before the tree grounded it out or the police shut it off.”
After Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003, it was weeks before power was restored to many homes in Chesterfield and according to officials, Irene was the second most damaging storm in recent history.
Surveying damages on Sunday, Sandra Lowery and her neighbor Mark Cummings who both reside on Winfree Street in Chester said they were happy that the tall oak that fell in Lowery’s side yard did not hit either of their houses.
“We were without power for 15 days after Isabel,” Lowery said. “We’re probably looking at the same time with this one.”