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Winter woes continue; thousands in Forsyth still without power


* Forsyth County Schools closed Wednesday.

* Photo gallery of winter storm damage.

FORSYTH COUNTY — There remained 18,493 Forsyth residents without power as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, said Cindy Badgett, a spokeswoman for Cumming-based Sawnee EMC, the utility cooperative that serves most of the county.

Meanwhile, the Forsyth Sheriff’s Office is continuing to monitor roads and incoming calls while assisting power companies and county crews, according to Robin Regan, a spokesman for the agency.

All major road obstructions from the storm have been cleared, he said. Personnel are now working to get minor obstructions out of the way and restore power service.

The county’s emergency operations center will remain open throughout the night, although personnel have been reduced, Regan said.

By noon Tuesday, occasional calls came in about additional trees and limbs collapsing under ice, but “it’s mostly just a cleanup effort now.”

The weather forecast calls for a possible slight warm-up Wednesday, with high temperatures reaching near 40 degrees before dropping into the teens Wednesday night.




FORSYTH COUNTY — Hours after the worst of the winter storm had crossed Forsyth County, icy trees and power lines continue to block roads and have left more than 21,000 residents without power Tuesday afternoon.

Calls coming into the county’s emergency operations center were primarily related to downed trees, said Jodi Gardner, a spokeswoman for the county government.

The center on Settingdown Road in north Forsyth was activated about 5:30 p.m. Monday, around the time the National Weather Service changed Forsyth’s winter weather advisory to a warning.

“Roads and bridges [department] staff began operating on 12-hour shifts,” Gardner said. “… They responded nonstop overnight to phone calls relative to ice on tree limbs hanging over the roads and trees falling on roadways.”

She said staff from the sheriff’s office and county’s fire and water and sewer departments worked through the night and into Tuesday.

The ice was expected to begin melting later in the day, as the weather forecast called for a high temperature near 40 degrees. However, authorities remained on alert with the possibility of refreezing overnight.  And the high temperature today was not expected to top 35, with a projected low of 9.

According to Gardner, an American Red Cross shelter has opened at Cumming First United Methodist Church, 770 Canton Highway. It is open and available to anyone needing shelter. For more information, call (678) 613-3522.



Downed trees blocking roads


Since 4 p.m. Monday, emergency personnel reported responding to 345 road obstructions, most of which involved trees on roads.

The storm hit north and west Forsyth the hardest, but the entire county was affected by falling trees due to heavy ice and winds, which at their peak were reported to have reached 30 mph.

“The volume was huge between 9 and 11 p.m. … at the height of trees falling,” said Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “But we kept the chainsaws going and we did what we could, and throughout the night we kept on clearing trees.

According to Rainwater, most residents adhered to the warnings and stayed home.

“It helped [Monday] night,” he said. “It was huge when trees started falling and we didn’t have to deal with a lot of traffic that we would normally have had on a Monday after work.”


Travel turns tricky


There were 14 wrecks throughout the night. Four of those resulted in eight injuries, one of which involved a person being trapped in the vehicle.

The incidents occurred throughout the county, Rainwater said, and there were no serious or life-threatening injuries in any of them.

Not included in the original 14, a three-vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer and two cars at McGinnis Ferry and Old Alpharetta roads about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Rainwater said that collision was not weather related, nor did it involve serious injuries.


Falling limbs spark fires


While most of the calls to emergency services were related to trees, personnel responded to 90 calls about wires down.

“Every fire unit was committed to incidents,” said Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers. “There was no down time throughout the night.”

Shivers said nothing significant was called in regarding fires, and most of the department’s efforts were focused on clearing roads.

Six tree fires resulted from limbs falling across power lines, becoming energized and igniting, he said. All were contained.

Three homes sustained storm damage.

A Forsyth engine and tanker truck assisted on a residential fire just after midnight off Hwy. 53 in southeastern Dawson County.

The response totals did not include duplicate calls (about 600) or those including alarms and non-storm related issues.

In total, authorities received 1,206 calls.


Power outages


Aggravating the inconvenience of the weather, thousands of residents remained without power well into Tuesday afternoon.

Cumming-based Sawnee EMC, the utility provider for most of the county, had about 38,000 members without power at the height of the storm, according to Cindy Badgett, spokeswomen.

That had fallen to about 23,148 as of noon Tuesday, she said.

According to the sheriff’s office, about 5,500 Georgia Power customers lost power at some point. The utility serves mostly businesses within the Cumming city limits.

Damage was caused by an icy buildup on trees and lines, causing them to come in contact with each other.