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ROUND 2: Paulding grapples with ice storm
by Tom Spigolon
February 18, 2014 03:20 PM | 815 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special / Carroll EMC
Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative workers dealt with downed trees on lines in their mostly rural area during the three-day ice and snow storm last week.
Special / Carroll EMC Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative workers dealt with downed trees on lines in their mostly rural area during the three-day ice and snow storm last week.
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County officials said planning and communication helped lessen the blow on Paulding County last week despite more than 2,000 customers losing power during the snow and ice storm that blanketed north Georgia.

Better forecasting and communications, cooperation from the public and higher temperatures than the Jan. 28 ice storm were keys to preparing and dealing with the three-day event, said Paulding Department of Transportation Director Scott Greene.

The two major Paulding electricity suppliers brought in workers from cooperatives in other states and private companies to deal with the storm – which had been forecast for days before it hit.

Paulding suffered about half the outages of what neighboring Douglas County experienced. About 2,300 Paulding outages were reported at its peak Thursday morning, compared to 4,800 without power at the same time in Douglas, electric utility officials said.

GreyStone Power Corp. spokeswoman Ashley Kramer said the cooperative serves 40,362 customers in Paulding and only saw 110 outages in the county Wednesday before peaking at 1,226 Thursday morning,

The cooperative serves parts of eight counties including Paulding. It saw a peak of 11,500 outages throughout its area Wednesday morning and 11,000 Thursday morning following overnight snowfall, Kramer said.

The largest outage in Paulding in the storm was in a three- to four-mile area in north Paulding in the Dabbs Bridge area caused by a small limb on a three-phase line, Kramer said. She said GreyStone linemen worked in two 16-hour shifts. About 175 people worked in the field to restore power during the storm, including 100 GreyStone employees and 75 contractors from Pike Contracting, Thompson Contracting and TRC Contracting, she said.

“Nearly 100 other employees worked inside the office, many of them staying overnight for two or more nights, to provide field support and member services including handling outage reports,” Kramer said.

Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative, which serves parts of six counties, had 1,118 outages at its peak Thursday morning in Paulding County, said spokeswoman Kelly Hester. Carroll serves about 4,900 customers in western Paulding.

She said overnight snow accumulation, on top of the prior ice accumulation, caused additional limbs and trees to fall on power lines early Thursday. The Carrollton-based cooperative used about 67 Carroll employees and 131 other workers the company contracted with or recruited from electric cooperatives from five states, Hester said.

She said the company’s most severe Paulding County damage was five broken poles caused by fallen trees.

“We did not have any problems in Paulding that I would say took an unusual amount of time to repair for this type of event,” Hester said.

Greene said he and other county officials, including Commission Chairman David Austin, County Administrator Mike Jones, Sheriff Gary Gulledge, Fire Chief Mike Earwood and 911 Director David Mumford, held briefings and attended National Weather Service webinars to plan and make adjustments.

The group met with Hiram and Dallas leaders plus Paulding School District and WellStar Paulding Hospital officials to coordinate countywide plans, he said.

Sheriff Gary Gulledge said his deputies encountered few problems during the three-day period. “We brought in every vehicle and all the manpower we’ve got,” the sheriff said. “I think we were blessed. Most folks stayed at home.”

The Georgia State Patrol reported one fatality as a result of “black ice” on roads Friday morning. Douglasville resident Alice Tucker, 71, died after her vehicle hit some ice, crossed the median and hit an oncoming pickup truck on U.S. Hwy. 278 in Hiram, according to media reports and local officials. Greene said Paulding DOT began 24-hour snow and ice preparation and removal operations Feb. 11 at 5 a.m. Crews then worked 12-hour shifts with 25 workers each through Thursday night.

It completed plowing ice and snow on about 125 miles of major county roads and about 75 miles of secondary roads, he said. They also patrolled hundreds of miles of other roads to find problem areas among the total 985 miles of county roads, he said.

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