Editor’s Note: The derecho summer storm at the end of June caused severe damage across the Mid-Atlantic region of the country, knocking out power to millions. After Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s linemen worked day and night to restore power to their own members, some of the crews were dispatched to Nelson County, Virginia, to help restore power to members of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC). The following article and picture were printed in the Nelson County Times newspaper. They were submitted by Johnnie Roberts, a member of CVEC who wanted to express his gratitude to this Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative crew for restoring power to his home. Mr. Roberts has given his permission to reprint the article

“I wouldn’t give a hoot for a life without passion and drama...a future with no heroes.”

These words were probably spoken by the great Gen. George Patton as he and all of the other Allied forces marched through Europe, doing for those people what they couldn’t do for themselves...be free from Nazi occupation and oppression.

I thought about what it must have been like for those long-suffering people to hear the roar, to look down the road and to see those approaching Allied tanks and soldiers.

I was a child during World War II but I remember hearing the radio reports and seeing the newsreels.

I remember the images of people lining the sides of the roads, dancing and singing, waving flags and throwing flowers...passion and drama on an unimaginable scale.

Certainly this area is no stranger to natural disasters. I remember working for the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) a long time ago and helping with the recovery from Hurricane Gracie in September of 1959.

My role in that recovery was very small but I was there and I saw what it was like.

I saw the noble work of the men and women of CVEC, some of the greatest people I have ever known. That same tradition continues to this day.

Hurricane Gracie was rated as the strongest and most intense hurricane since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

I remember how it spawned a tornado that devastated an area to the south and west of Charlottesville, an area roughly from Hickory Hill to Ivy.

Tractor-trailers were overturned on U.S. 29. In Ivy, 12 members of one family died as a result of Hurricane Gracie

On Tuesday afternoon, July 3rd, those of us on Hickory Creek heard the roar, looked down the road and saw our liberators coming. It was a line crew from the Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative.

Before dark on that evening, they had our power back on. In the Mecklenburg crew, Craig Phelps is the foreman, Norman Rose is a first-class lineman, Andy Epperson is an apprentice lineman and Adam Brewer is a groundman.

I already had a special place in my heart for Mecklenburg County. My best buddy in the Army was from there...La Crosse, to be exact.

We were such close friends that 50 years later, I still remember his service number.

In the time of natural disasters, it is the human element that rises to the occasion, above and beyond the call of duty...the heroes of our time.

I wish I had the pictures and names of all of the people who toiled under withering conditions to bring us out of this difficulty, but I don’t.

All I can do is try to express my gratitude to all of them for all that they have done.

I can only offer a heartfelt “Thank You”.

Johnnie Roberts

Faber, Virginia