Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thousands of residents south of I-20 still without power

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Ice has a much larger impact on our lines and trees than snow does.
  • Joeff Davis
  • "Ice has a much larger impact on our lines and trees than snow does."

The ice storm has moved on, but major power outages linger south of I-20.

Georgia Power's outage map this afternoon showed thousands without power throughout southwest Atlanta and Southeast Atlanta, and down into such cities as Jonesboro, Forest Park and College Park.

About 45,000 customers are still without power in the general south metro area, said Georgia Power spokesperson Tony Gonzalez, and crews are working 24/7 to get them back on the grid.

About 6,000 crews are working on 200,000 outages statewide, Gonzalez said.

"A large number of them, more than 1,000 to 1,500, are in south metro Atlanta," he said, adding that they should have most outages cleared by sometime tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the city is keeping several shelters open for people affected by power outages or other storm-related problems. They include the Rosel Fann Recreation Center, 365 Cleveland Ave. SE in Southeast Atlanta, and the Ben Hill Recreation Center, 2405 Fairburn Road SW in Southwest Atlanta.

Immediately after the storm, Georgia Power had 550,000 outages - about 23 percent of its customers statewide.

If outages in the north metro area seem to have been cleared quicker, that's because there were fewer of them. The area south of I-20 got hit harder by ice and suffered more damage, Gonzalez said.

"They did get impacted more by ice and slush accumulation. Ice has a much larger impact on our lines and trees than snow does," he said.

Gonzalez could not immediately say whether there might also be a difference with metro Atlanta areas with utility lines running underground rather than on poles. He could only cite statewide figures: the company has 25,000 miles of underground lines and 48,000 miles of above-ground lines, counting both transmission and distribution lines.

"Every customer's a priority," he said. Hospitals and emergency services centers come first when fixing outages, Gonzalez said, but after that, it's about sending the most crews to the highest concentrations of outages. But crews are active everywhere.

"We have made a lot of progress," said Gonzalez. The 6,000 crews at work include teams from eight other states who have a mutual assistance pact with Georgia Power.

Forecasters had warned of a "catastrophic" ice storm. How bad is this one?

"I'm not sure we can compare" until they've finished up, Gonzalez said. "This is undoubtedly a very significant event."

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