Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ice, snow leave thousands without power

2014-02-19

By Pat Cooper

It appears Atlanta came out of the ice-apocalypse this week in much better condition than the snow storm that stranded metro-area residents two weeks before.
It also appeared that, despite Fayette being among the worst hit areas, it was once again up to the challenge.
The weather blew in during the wee hours of Wednesday morning, with a chilling mix of snow and rain freezing and covering all surfaces with a slick glaze that didn’t look as heavy as it was--until tree limbs started cracking and falling.
All afternoon and night, with power flickering off and on, the police, fire EMS and public works departments responded to limbs snapping down on power lines, medical emergencies for transport and trees crashing to the ground.
On Hippocket Road, a tree crashed through a house. By 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, most roadways were passable at close to speed limit conditions with the exception of Peachtree Parkway north. Sporadic power outages continued on Thursday with traffic lights out at Hwy 54 and Walt Bank and Hwy 54 and Robinson. Roads are expected to clear as the temperature increases. Chain saw crews were still out proactively moving trees to avoid road closures. The public was reminded that any traffic light that is out should be treated as a four way stop.
Around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, residents living near Huddleston Pond off Windgate and Doubletrace, heard a loud pop, then watched the lights go out.
Coweta Fayette EMC authorities struggled for four hours to get the power back in that area, with the occasional popping off and back on, finally at about 11 a.m. residents could turn on coffee pots and heaters if they were lucky enough to be in the area that had been fixed. Some residents couldn’t even claim that much, and spent the two days of the storm in the dark. Throughout the day, the power fluctuated with nearly 1800 homes in Fayette County remaining without power early Friday. Georgia Power claimed only a small number of outages, but the EMC is the main provider of power to the area.
Well into Wednesday night, Peachtree City authorities were caught up in keeping traffic away from the busiest intersection in the county when ice and wind resulted in traffic signals and lines collapsing down.
At the intersection of Highways 54 and 74, traffic signals and signs scraped the ice, bounced in the wind as police shut down the roadway. Live power lines sparked along the roadway and the police department worked under emergency power. Public Works road crews responded to one emergency situation after another.
On McIntosh Trail off Robinson Road, tree limbs collapsed at around 8 p.m., taking down power lines and once again plunging the area into darkness until past 11 p.m. Then, again, the power flickered in the area, coming on, then off throughout the night. At approximately 7 a.m. one final pop clicked it off again, until about 9 a.m., at least in that area. Residents looked out the window to see snow had come through during the night.
Road closures piled up throughout Wednesday into Thursday. Residents, fortunately, took the warnings seriously - as they had done the last time- and stayed home, burrowed under blankets, staging themselves in front of fireplaces and heaters as they prepared to make do and get through.
On Thursday, while municipal and education authorities kept cities and county governments closed and children got another day off from school, the sun began peeking out, the temperatures rose and the ice and snow began to melt. Residents were still advised to stay home, unless it was absolutely necessary, to give the ice a chance to melt. They were also warned that plunging temperatures after dark could easily refreeze the water and drivers should take heed and not leave for work before the sun came out, giving it a chance to clear.
On Friday, Fayette County administrator Steve Rapson noted the county would be conducting wellness checks, using the combined power of the county’s and all municipalities’ fire crews.
“We are in the process of having our Fayette County and each respective municipalities fire crews conduct a ‘wellness check’ on residents throughout the entire county who remain without power. As part of this effort, we will be distributing the following communication in order to ensure their continued safety, especially our senior citizens.”
Fayette County continues to experience areas of the County that still are without power service. If you have reported your power outage then your power provider knows about the outage. Power outages are being prioritized based upon the number of customers impacted. The county is in touch with both Georgia Power and Coweta Fayette EMC but has no additional information other then they are working diligently to get the power restored in all part of Fayette County.
If you are without power and need assistance consider the following:
1.     Relocate to a hotel until your power is restored. Hotel rooms are becoming available as power is being restored in some part of the county. Another source of shelter would friends, family and neighbors that have power.
2.     Most commercial areas in Fayetteville and Peachtree City have power and you can get temporary relief during business hours and some are open 24 hours. 
3.     If you have a medical emergency call 911.
4.     If you have a non-emergency call (770) 461-HELP (4357) and is designed to provide information or assistance to citizens with various, non-life threatening situations.
5.     If you have a home oxygen machine or specialized medical attention the Piedmont Fayette Hospital can accommodate you.
The only source that can answer questions about restoring your power is your power provider. Georgia Power can be reached at 1-888-891-0938 and Coweta-Fayette EMC can be reached at (770) 502-0226.
The only thing left in the aftermath is the cleanup.
In Fayette County, on Saturday, February 15 and again on February 22, the Fayette County Transfer Station will not charge Fayette County residents for limb and tree yard debris caused by the ice storm. This does not include commercial landscape companies who will be required to pay the normal commercial rate tipping fee and stage their debris on the transfer floor. All county residents will be required to show identification demonstrating residency and provide a phone number.
Residents will be required to take debris to the designated staging area in the yard-waste yard. Mulch loading for these two Saturdays will be suspended due to traffic congestion in the transfer station and yard-waste areas. If you have any questions please call 770-305-5410 or email solidwaste@fayettecountyga.gov
In Peachtree City, the Planning and Zoning Department has announced that tree removal permits are not required for trees that were damaged during the recent storm. They do encourage residents to use one of the contractors identified on their website for the removal. Please visit the city’s website at peachtree-city.org and go to Planning and Zoning, then tree removal ordinance to find the list of approved tree removal contractors.
According to mayor Vanessa Fleisch, public works, the Peachtree City police and fire departments and Keep Peachtree City Beautiful were out to clean up the cart paths on Friday.
Police are inspecting the entire multi-use path system by ATV. Thus far, the paths behind Balmoral Village and around Concord Village, Peachtree Parkway at Braelinn Road, Clairage Curve, Loghouse Road near Heritage, the Braelinn Recreation center behind the tennis courts, Cameron Trail at Terrace Way, McIntosh Trail at Creekstone, Sweetwater Oaks at Lake Peachtree, the Highway 54 bridge near Partners Pizza, Wisdom Road across from Peachtree City Elementary School, the Fielding Ridge area and Emerling Lane near the cul-de-sac were all noted as areas needing trees removed. Citizens are urged to use caution when traveling on the paths in those general areas.

 

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