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Ice or not, area ready

Road crews and power companies prepared

Ice or not, area ready

Ice or not, area ready

Motorists abandon their vehicles and ...

By the time you read this, you may have a better idea whether all of the preparations for an ice storm are proving necessary.

Tuesday, power companies and road crews stood ready for a possible accumulation of ice overnight in eastern Georgia. Classes remain canceled Wednesday for students from prekindergarten through grad school.

Georgia Power and Excelsior Electric Membership Corporation put crews on standby to respond in case falling limbs and ice on power lines caused outages.

“This morning we activated our storm center at 8 a.m., and what we did prior to that is we had all our line crews throughout the state come in this morning packed and ready to go should severe weather hit,” said Brian Green, a Georgia Power spokesman in Atlanta.The storm center, also in Atlanta, is the company’s dispatching hub for storm outages.Georgia Power customers can call (888) 891-0938 to report outages.

“We’re reminding customers that, depending on how severe the outages are, that line may get pretty tied up at times,” Green said.The company’s website includes a map at showing areas where outages have already been reported. It can be viewed from mobile devices.

Metter-based Excelsior EMC reported similar preparations.“Excelsior EMC is closely monitoring weather conditions and our linemen are preparing trucks with emergency equipment and necessary materials, should the weather become severe,” Excelsior Member Services Manager Greg Proctor said.

“Additionally, we are working with Georgia EMC, our statewide organization, to call upon other EMCs in the state to provide help and support, should it be required.”

Excelsior EMC customers should call (912) 685-2115 or (912) 764-2123 to report any outages or downed power lines. If wires are down, the advice of both utility companies is simple: stay away, keep children and others away, and report the problem.

“Don’t touch the line itself and don’t touch anything that may be lying on the line or close to it, because that line could be energized,” Green said. “Give us a call on our customer service line and also call local law enforcement.”

Yes, snowplows

Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Region 5 headquarters in Jesup had about 200 tons of salt and gravel on  hand, along with more than 40 pieces of snow and ice removal equipment and 12 snow plows for the 24-county region, said GDOT Region 5 Communications Officer Jill Nagel. Four dump trucks and three spreader trucks, loaded with salt and gravel, had been assigned to Bulloch County.GDOT has more than 300 employees on-call in the 24-county region. If icing occurred, the department would focus its efforts on major routes, such as Interstate 16, and coordinate with county and city road crews for other roads, Nagel added.

The American Red Cross’ Bulloch Branch, which serves 11 counties, had no plans to open shelters for people who might lose heat due to power outages. The lowest temperature predicted was about 10 degrees warmer than the season’s previous low.

“We typically don’t open shelters for cold weather or power outage unless it’s such extreme temperatures that it would be life-threatening,” said Red Cross Disaster Services Specialist Mary Roche.

“The decision is case-by-case and we work with the emergency manager, and the and Red Cross advise sheltering in place.

”In other words, the Red Cross and Bulloch County Emergency Management Director Ted Wynn advised residents to stay home. “Just bundle up. It’s probably safer than going out on hazardous roads,” Roche said.

A danger of opening shelters would be that people would have to travel to them when roads are iciest, Wynn said.Tuesday, the National Weather Service replaced an earlier ice storm warning for the Statesboro area with a new winter storm warning at ice accumulation in the overnight forecast had been reduced from a half inch or more to 0.1-0.3 inch. But a 100 percent chance of precipitation and a low of 25 degrees were still predicted.

The forecast for Wednesday said snow and sleet are likely before 10 a.m., with a chance lingering into the afternoon.With snow falling in Atlanta and elsewhere to the north and west Tuesday afternoon, Wynn indicated he was pleased with local precautions.

“We’re still preparing for the worst over here in hopes that that doesn’t happen,” he said.

School closings, etc.

The Bulloch County public schools, Georgia Southern University, Ogeechee Technical College, East Georgia State College, Bulloch Academy, Charter Conservatory and Trinity Christian School are all closed Wednesday.

Public schools are also closed Wednesday in Bryan, Candler, Evans, Jenkins and Screven counties. The Bulloch County Board of Education, Georgia Southern andsome of the others are slated to announce Wednesday afternoon whether they will reopen Thursday. The announced class cancellation for Ogeechee Tech extends through Thursday, as do the Evans County and Jenkins County school closings.

Nonessential Bulloch County and Statesboro city offices are closed Wednesday. The Single-stream Curbside Recycling pickup  scheduled for Wednesday is canceled and will resume Feb. 5, Keep Bulloch Beautiful announced. The Thursday pickup was  expected to be unaffected.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454

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