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'It could have been worse' - Hall's roads in 'good shape,' power back on after winter storm
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Carl Wagster peers over his fence Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, where a row of large leyland cypress trees fell onto his house from this week's winter storm. Nine trees came down in Wagster's property. - photo by Scott Rogers

What does a man do when his house has been crushed by nine trees in the middle of a snow storm and he is without power for nearly two days? 

He huddles by the gas fireplace, eats nearly an entire box of Ritz crackers with peanut butter and peruses the user manual of his motorhome from cover to cover. 

At least that’s what 70-year-old Carl Wagster did as he braved Winter Storm Izzy in his home on Holly Drive in Gainesville. 

“I will not eat Ritz crackers with peanut butter any time in the very, very near future,” Wagster said. “I told my wife, ‘Don’t you ever buy them again.’” 

The winter tempest uprooted nine Leyland cypress trees, each one about 70 feet tall, and sent them crashing into his roof. Three others were felled across his driveway. 

Wagster said his power went out Saturday evening and wasn’t restored until around 6:15 p.m. Monday. Many of his neighbors also suffered power outages, he said, with in-home temperatures falling into the low 50s. 

He estimates the repairs will cost at least $7,000. 

“I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy,” Wagster said. “It was a challenge, but it could’ve been worse. It could have been worse. That’s what I told my neighbor. I said, ‘At the end of the day we’re all OK, everything can be fixed and we can just move forward.” 

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Several trees fell on Carl Wagster's home on Holly Drive in Gainesville during the winter storm and left him without power for two days. (Photo courtesy of Carl Wagster)

Hall County saw around 3 inches of snow on average during the winter storm, and northern parts of the county saw as much as half a foot. And it’s possible that Hall County could see more snow later this week.

“There is a chance of some wintry precipitation across both north and central (Georgia) late Thursday through early Saturday, though uncertainty remains in the timing, placement, and amounts,” according to a Tuesday report from the National Weather Service. “Otherwise no other hazardous weather is expected.” 

Dylan Lusk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Peachtree City, said there is still a lot of uncertainty as to whether North Georgia might see more snow. A cold front is swooping in from the west, and it largely depends on the path it takes. 

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Crews continue to make repairs to lines and poles Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, at Chestatee Road near Dixon Drive. - photo by Scott Rogers

“This system is going to have a lot more trouble than the last system getting access to the moisture that it needs,” he said, adding that in the next day or so they should be able to make more confident predictions, at which point they will decide on whether to issue another winter storm watch.

Hall County Emergency Management Director Casey Ramsey wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon that “road conditions are in really good shape.” 

“This is a result of road maintenance crews working diligently during the day on Monday to clear and treat areas,” he wrote. “The sun coming out today with warmer temperatures also really helped out. There were some isolated areas that had black ice but we did not have too many travel issues reported this morning.” 

Schools in Gainesville and Hall County were closed Tuesday over worries about black ice and because some students were still without power. 

“School campuses still had a lot of snow and ice covering parking areas on Monday so they needed warmer weather to help clear those areas for safer travels,” Ramsey wrote. “Consideration is also given to students and family that may have not had power restored until late Monday and even into today.” 

He said about 30-35 customers in Hall County were still without power. 

As of Tuesday evening, Georgia Power reported zero power outages in Hall County, and Jackson EMC reported three.