After 30 hours without heat, power back on at many Nassau County homes

Shelter opens in Hilliard after winter storm leaves thousands without power

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Many families across Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia were left in the dark after the winter storm knocked out their power.

Earlier Thursday morning, thousands of customers in Nassau County were without power. 

As of 11 p.m. Thursday, Okefenokee Rural Electric Membership Corporation reported that 33 customers in Nassau County were without power as a hard freeze warning was in effect for Northeast Florida until 11 a.m. Friday.

Wednesday afternoon, Nassau County opened a cold weather shelter at Hilliard Middle-Senior High School located at 1 Flashes Avenue, just west of U.S. 301, because of the power outages.

The shelter plans to remain open as long as homes are still without power.

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Other Nassau County residents made do without heat and electricity. 

The Davis family found several different ways to stay warm during the freezing temperatures.

A fire was crackling in the fireplace and a generator was running during the 30 hours that the Davis family went without power.

“It’s been chilly and exhausting," Billy Davis told News4Jax on Thursday. "We’ve had to steadily feed our fireplace and keep the kerosene heater fueled up and keep the generator fueled up.”

The cold, winter storm knocked out power to thousands of Nassau County homes, including the Davis' house.

When members of the Davis family first woke up Wednesday morning, their backyard was a winter wonderland with tree limbs transformed into icicles. 

“The ice, with all the snapping limbs and everything around us, was definitely a different experience," Davis said.

As an Okefenokee Electric crew drove by the Davis’ house the next day, the family saw light and warmth at the end of the tunnel. 

“A nice warm shower would be really relaxing," Billy Davis said.

About 6 p.m. Thursday, power was finally restored to the Davis' home.

Now that he has the heat back on, Davis said, he's going to thank the linemen for bringing warmth back to into house.

As the sun set in Nassau County Thursday evening, News4Jax was at the Gilliland's home when family members saw their lights come back on after spending more than 30 hours without power.

“Wonderful. (I'm) so excited," Jennifer Gilliland said. "As long as we have water, we’ll be in good shape.”

The Gillilands were one of many families in Nassau County who lost power during the winter storm. 

“There was ice everywhere. The cars were covered in ice," Laray Gilliland said. "The trees, the ground, everything had ice.”

The couple and their daughter were forced to stay somewhere else because they didn't have any heat or electricity. 

Laray Gilliland said the biggest issue with not having power was "the cold and not having a hot shower."

But now that their power is finally back on, they said they're looking forward to sleeping in their own beds Thursday night. 

Crews continue working to restoring power across Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.

Nassau County residents still without power are reminded that the shelter at Hilliard Middle-Senior High School will be open overnight. 

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