While many in Forsyth County stayed home and enjoyed the weather brought by Winter Storm Izzy this weekend, for some, it was time to get to work.
Forsyth County Emergency Management Director Chris Grimes said Forsyth County experienced power outages, ice and downed trees during the winter weather on Sunday, Jan. 16, though those issues had largely been cleared up by Monday morning.
“We saw several trees down [on Sunday], especially with the wind got up so high,” Grimes told Forsyth County News on Monday. “We had several instances, where trees were down, power outages.”
Officials with Sawnee Electrical Membership Corporation said throughout Sunday, some 6,000 customers in Forsyth County were without power at some point.
In the Pilgrim Mill and Holtzclaw road area in east Forsyth, two power poles were broken during the storm, meaning crews had to remove the trees and debris, find which materials are needed and get them to the site and set new poles, reattach lines and repair any damage before returning power to customers in the area.
Barbra Curtiss, a local real estate agent who lives off Pilgrim Mill near Lake Lanier said they were without power for about 12 hours.
“The winds were ferocious. It took out a bunch of power poles [on Pilgrim Mill], just broke them in two,” Curtiss said. “My granddaughter [sent] me photos of the mangled lines. It looked like a tornado went through instead of a ... winter storm.”
“I can’t say enough good things about how hard [Sawnee EMC employees] work,” she said.
Forsyth County’s government, fire department and sheriff’s office shared information on road closures, downed power lines and other issues caused by the snow and the efforts to fix those issues, such as deploying chainsaw crews and salt trucks.
Grimes said officials from several local agencies began preparing their response earlier in the week and came together at the county’s Emergency Operations Center on Saturday night as temperatures began to drop.
“We started late Saturday night when the wintery weather started late in the night, and we were monitoring it,” he said. “We activated the emergency operations center at 8 p.m., Saturday night so we could have all of our key partners there to be ready and respond if we had issues.”
As the storm rolled through, Grimes said many of the county’s residents stayed home and off the roads, which meant fewer wrecks and made it easier for crews to cut trees and restore power.
“We were able to get out [on Sunday] when not a lot of people were out on the roads,” Grimes said. “It made it easy for us to get trees cleared, let us hit slick spots with our salt trucks, so we appreciate everyone staying off the roads. It really helped.”
While one storm was moving out, weather forecasts show that Forsyth and north Georgia could be in for more snow and cold weather starting this weekend.
On Monday, Grimes said officials are monitoring the next potential storm, which could come on Friday, and, if needed, would start forming a plan in the coming days since Georgia’s unpredictable winter weather means projections and responses can quickly change.
“We’re going to be watching the official forecast with the National Weather Service as we get a little closer,” he said. “Right now, we’re a little far out, so [on Tuesday], we’ll probably start digging into that as we get within that three- to four-day window.”
Managing editor Tracie Pike contributed to this report.