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Storm sends residents scrambling for supplies
Cleanup begins as residents take the lead
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Andrée Villacorta purchases a fluorescent lantern Tuesday at The Home Depot in Gainesville. Villacorta lost power around 8 p.m. Monday and does not expect to get power back until sometime today. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Power outages across Hall County sent residents scrambling Tuesday morning for generators, food and other essentials to make it through the storm’s aftermath.

But it was slim pickings at some local stores following a mad dash for supplies in the days leading up to the ice storm.

The Home Depot on Dawsonville Highway quickly sold out of ice melt, generators and space heaters, according to manager Reece Gilmer, while a little firewood and a handful of chain saws were still available.

Doug Buffington, a Gainesville resident, said he was buying a chain saw to clear a tree that had fallen across his driveway and knocked out power.

And Kyle Grindle, who lives in the Murrayville area, walked out with one of the last generators. He said his home lost power early Monday night.

With the prospect of more inclement weather in the days ahead, Gilmer said he was working closely with vendors and other Home Depot stores to replenish shelves.

Things were relatively slow at the Wal-Mart on Shallowford Road, though a few shoppers were gearing up for a cold day at home.

“I hate ice storms, period,” said Tracy O’Shields, who lives in the Sardis Road area.

O’Shields purchased several bottles of fuel for his camping stove, the only way he has to make coffee and cook a hot meal.

He said power went out about 11 p.m. Monday after tree limbs in his neighbor’s yard sheared off, breaking a power pole in half.

Manager Anthony Howard said shoppers rushed Sunday night to the Wal-Mart in anticipation of the storm. Staples such as bread and milk were selling before the day’s supply could be restocked.

Meanwhile, long lines formed at local fast-food restaurants as residents without power searched for a hot breakfast.

At the McDonald’s on Browns Bridge Road, Roger Fannon and his wife waited patiently to place their order.

Fannon said his home in North Hall had been without power since early Monday night.

“This is one of the few places with power,” he said.

At the Publix grocery store on Thompson Bridge Road, generators were keeping the lights on and credit card machines running, but the coolers were shut down and perishable food had been cleared from shelves.

Brad Doddridge, who also lives in the Sardis Road area, walked out with bottled water and a few tasty snacks to get through the day. He could only shake his head at the ice storm’s wrath.

By mid-afternoon, residents were braving the cold temperatures and beginning the cleanup process.

Neighborhoods abuzz with the sound of chain saws and hammers revealed the long road ahead, and damage along Hillcrest Avenue presented a case study in the ice storm’s power.

Sergio and Pedro Bernadac spent an hour chopping up a tree that was uprooted by the storm and partially blocking the street.

“I was sitting on my porch when it came down,” Sergio said, adding that he watched in amazement as falling tree limbs tore down power lines and sparked small bursts of fire and light.

A few houses up the street, Rosa Velasquez checked out the damage to her car after a monstrous tree was uprooted, fell from the neighbor’s yard across the street and crashed on top of her Nissan.

Velasquez said she was frightened when she heard the tree topple about midnight, and worried that another might come crashing through her home and bedroom.

“I didn’t sleep,” she said. “I don’t know if I want to stay here tonight.”

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