As rising temperatures Thursday started melting away this week’s winter mess, officials started assessing the damage from a storm that pummeled much of Georgia earlier in the week, especially the Atlanta area.
Georgia Department of Transportation’s District 1, based in Gainesville and covering Northeast Georgia, spent Thursday morning unloading unused materials from vehicles and figuring up timecards, said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman.
“We’ve had 250 people working for 48 straight hours — that is a minimum of 12,000 man-hours worked since Tuesday,” she said.
Pope said she would later release other numbers related to the storm, such as total cost of materials used.
District 1 includes Gwinnett County, with Atlanta and surrounding counties in District 7, but, Wednesday night, the DOT “shifted some assets from working in Northeast Georgia to Metro Atlanta,” District Engineer Bayne Smith said.
Six dump trucks ended up working the northwest quadrant of Interstate 285, and five dump trucks worked Ga. 400 in Fulton County.
Before the storm, District 1 had logged 2,561 worker hours and 765 tons of stone, 320 tons of salt and 100 gallons of brine used in battling the elements, for a total cost of $185,032, Pope said.
And that was mainly for efforts in extreme Northeast Georgia. Except for this week. the Hall County area has experienced mainly bone-chilling temperatures and a few flurries here and there this winter, but not much else.
Capt. Scott Cagle, spokesman for Hall County Fire Services, said the county worked 1,637 emergency calls, including 189 wrecks, from noon Tuesday to noon Thursday.
The total number, which also includes two chimney fires, is basically the same as regular 48-hour periods, so “this was close to being a nonevent for us,” Cagle said. “Although the call volume was similar to others, it just shifted to different departments.”
Overall, “I believe we fared better in Hall County than others due to our road maintenance crews (at work) and citizens staying off the roads,” he said.
Still, area body shops are beginning to see vehicles with weather-related damage.
“We’re getting (vehicles) towed in, people coming by and we’re getting a lot of phone calls,” said Tony Tankersley, general manager of 985 Collision in Oakwood. “It’s going to get pretty busy. We will probably be working some overtime.”
Insurance adjusters have been at the business assessing damage, and “we’re getting some (vehicles) being towed out of the Atlanta area,” he added.
Roads were slippery for many Hall County motorists, but conditions paled in comparison to the nightmarish scenes played out on interstates in and around Atlanta. Motorists there sat in traffic for hours — in many cases, ditching their cars by the side of the road.
David Stacey, body shop manager at the Milton Martin Toyota dealership in Gainesville, said his business had received just a few vehicles with storm-related damage.
“We got a couple (vehicles) from the Cleveland area, and we got one coming back from the Atlanta area,” he said. “I do know a lot of the insurance companies have been closed for the last couple of days, so it still may be something coming. It’s just not there yet.”
Dave Criss, body shop manager at Hayes Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Oakwood, also was noticing a slow trickle.
“Today is probably a little early,” he said. “We’ve probably received about eight claims for (work) that needs to be done. I’m sure there’ll be more. There’s a couple of days’ lag time for things to start happening.”
Paul Fuller of Jim Hardman Buick GMC said his dealership off Browns Bridge Road hadn’t seen a real increase in body repairs due to the storm. Business was basically normal, he said.
Joe Wood Jr., president of Turner Wood & Smith Agency in Gainesville, said the claims activity from the snowstorm “has been slightly above normal, but with only very little damage.”
“We had much more claims activity two weeks ago when the temperature reached single digits and we had over 80 busted pipe claims, which resulted in hundreds of thousands dollars in losses,” he said.