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Storm cleanup work continues in Jackson, other counties

POSTED: March 3, 2009 11:55 p.m.

While most of the snow has disappeared in Hall County, the residual affects of Sunday’s snowfall were still being felt Tuesday in Jackson County.

"We’re still working in Jackson and Oconee counties; they got the most snowfall in our region," said Teri Pope, Northeast Georgia communications officer for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"On Sunday and Monday our priority was keeping the travel lanes clear, (Tuesday) we were focused on removing the debris from the shoulders near the travel lanes. The drought conditions over the last three years weakened the root systems of the trees, which caused a lot of them to fall over under the pressure.

"The trees were falling so quickly on Sunday that we had to send crews out to cut the limbs off the fallen trees that were blocking the roads and simply push them to the side; there wasn’t time to remove them before they had to go remove another tree from the road."

In addition to the fallen trees and limbs, the transportation department also has to remove the piles of snow from the shoulders of the road where it was pushed by snow plows that were working to keep the travel lanes clear over the past few days.

Although DOT stopped salting Jackson County roads Tuesday morning, Pope says due to the presence of wet spots that have lingered on some roadways and the potential of overnight freezing temperatures, the department was expected to continue monitoring the situation through the early morning hours today for patches of black ice.

"We’ll send in skeleton crews to ride the roads to see if there are any areas that need to be salted overnight," Pope said Tuesday afternoon. "We also asked local law enforcement to contact us if they see any areas where black ice has formed while they are out on patrol."

The Jackson Electric Membership Corp. was also busy Tuesday working to restore electricity to nearly 10,000 customers in Jackson and Madison counties. In Jackson County, Jackson EMC crews were working to repair 10 remaining broken power poles and restore power to around 2,000 customers on Tuesday afternoon. In Madison County, an additional 60 power poles needed repairing and a little more than 8,000 customers were still without power.

"More than 3,300 Jackson EMC customers had their power restored (as of 4:15 p.m.) as winter storm repair efforts continue," said Bonnie Jones, Jackson EMC communications director. "While we have no estimate on how long restoration will take, crews will continue to work to clear the outages as quickly as possible, working as fast as the situation and safety concerns allow."

Restoring power has been slowed down in both counties due to the melting snow creating muddy conditions, in which utility trucks have gotten stuck. In some areas, work crews are actually having to cut their way through downed tree limbs in order to make the necessary repairs, Jones says.

Although temperatures were expected to dip down to the mid-20s Tuesday night, the National Weather Service is predicting that the weather will reach 53 degrees this afternoon. It is not expected to dip below freezing tonight.



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