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Schools, power companies prepare for winter blast
Freezing rain, sleet, snow in forecast
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The forecast of freezing rain, sleet and snow has closed all area schools Friday and sent power companies into preparation for possible outages.

Both the Hall County and Gainesville school systems canceled classes, though Hall schools will have a “school from home/digital learning day.”

Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning for the Hall County School District, said the system used the school from home option a few days last year and received lots of positive tweets and emails, saying parents and students enjoyed the interactive process.

Barron added that the school system accounts for the fact that some families may not have the needed technology, may have more than one child or could have parents that need to work on a home computer. For those who aren’t able to access the online schoolwork from home, schools send home packets of work for the day.

“We make provisions for everyone,” Barron said.

Gainesville schools, meanwhile, will make up the missed school day on Feb. 15.

Freezing rain is possible today, followed by snow after 2 a.m. Saturday, according to the Friday morning forecast from the National Weather Service.

Ice and wind could down trees and cause power outages. Winds today will be 10 to 15 mph with gusts at 30 mph.

Hall, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Banks, Union and Towns are among 21 Georgia counties for which Gov. Nathan Deal announced a state of emergency on Thursday.

Weather service forecaster George Wetzel said the Atlanta area and spots just north of the capital should receive light snow, but “the further north you go, the better chance of accumulating snow.”

Georgia Power spokeswoman Ashley Stukes said the company is “constantly monitoring the forecast and strategically place our crews and resources where the forecasts predict the severe weather might hit and then relocate as we can.”

She noted that smart meters help the company more quickly identify outages, while vegetation management helps limit power lines making contact with trees and branches.

Georgia Power encourages customers to report outages at or by calling 1-888-891-0938.

Jackson EMC was planning to activate its emergency restoration plan at 3 p.m. Thursday, spokeswoman Bonnie Jones said. The comprehensive plan puts employees on call, gets fuel brought in where it’s needed and calls for how to feed crews working outages.

Jackson EMC will also have additional personnel ready to come in to add staffing to its system control center, which monitors the company’s network for outages and dispatches crews as needed, and its contact center, which handles customer calls and emails. Crews will move from one district to another if needed.

Jones said customers should report their outages rather than assuming someone else in the neighborhood has. Outages, or other problems such as downed trees, broken power poles, downed power lines and damaged transformers can be reported to Jackson EMC by phone at 1-800-462-3691 or on from smartphones or other devices.

Jones added that “we work outages to restore the most power to the most customers at one time. Also important to note is that if power is restored to neighbors and your home is still without power, you may have sustained damage to the service entrance at your home, which will require the services of an electrician to repair.”

Both Stukes and Jones said any power line on the ground should be assumed to be live, and public safety authorities should be contacted.

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