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Snowballs, sledding, shovels and power troubles

Jackson County uncovers from storm

POSTED: March 2, 2009 11:28 p.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Jefferson High School principal Kevin Smith shovels snow in his driveway Monday after Sunday night's snow storm. Jackson County schools were closed Monday due to the snow.

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JEFFERSON — The snow that blanketed much of Northeast Georgia on Sunday was both a gift and a curse for many Jackson County residents.

For students, it was a gift because they got an extended weekend, as the Jackson County, Jefferson City and Commerce City school systems were all closed on Monday.

For local utility and transportation officials, the snowfall was a curse when trying to restore services and maintain public safety after the precipitation began to fall. A state of emergency was declared Sunday night in Jackson County due to the icy conditions and the fallen tree limbs.

According to the National Weather Service, about 4 inches of snow accumulated in Jackson County on Sunday; with that snow came a loss of power for more than 24,000 Jackson Electric Membership Corp. members.

"The hardest hit areas are Jackson County and Madison County," said Bonnie Jones, Jackson EMC communications director. "Falling trees have downed power lines and broken five power poles in Jackson and 20 in Madison County."

According to Jones, 66 crews were working to restore power to affected customers on Monday, but in some isolated areas customers may not have functioning power until later today.

Because Hall County wasn’t hit as hard, Jackson EMC officials had to call in crews from Hall to help work on the problems in Jackson and Madison counties.

The weather also caused problems on the roadways of Jackson County.

Traffic on Interstate 85 was backed up for 20 miles due to Sunday’s precipitation, according to Georgia Department of Transportation officials.

"Warmer weather has been a big help, and we’re back to pretty normal traffic conditions," said Crystal Paulk-Buchanan, DOT media projects manager.

"We expect most everything to be cleared up and dry, but there may be a few residual wet spots in shady areas and on bridges that haven’t dried up yet. With wet patches, there is always the risk of black ice in those areas, so we warn drivers to be very careful until everything is completely dry."

While some were out in the snow that remained on Monday to clean up from the storm, many were out to play.

"This was the first time that I’ve seen this much snow," said Sarah Wood, a Jefferson Middle School eighth-grader. "When I found out that we weren’t having school (Monday) I was very excited."

Wood, Shannon Petering and about 50 other children and adults gathered on a hill in front of Jefferson High School on Washington Street for a day of sledding and playing in the snow.

"This is the most snow I’ve seen in a very long time. The last time we got a good amount of snow was in 1992," said Petering, a Jefferson resident. "I brought my (9-year-old daughter Ally) out today because this is the first big snow that’s she’s seen. (Sunday) we saw snowflakes that were the size of half dollars."

While kids were using everything from inner tubes to plastic storage container lids and boogie boards to have fun in the snow in front of the high school, Principal Kevin Smith was elsewhere doing something less fun. He had to shovel the snow from his driveway.

"I’ve been here seven years, and this is the most snow we’ve had in that time. I think this is more snow than most of us anticipated seeing," Smith said. "Luckily, we never lost power at my house, but I’ve spoken to several teachers who said that they lost power."

With snow steadily melting Monday afternoon, schools and government offices all were expected to be open today.

The National Weather Service reports that temperatures should climb throughout the week and should reach 72 degrees by Friday; with little or no precipitation expected.



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