Lee 911 recovers from lightning strike - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee 911 recovers from lightning strike

September 24, 2007

Lee County-  The Lee County Criminal Justice Center is still recovering from a lightning strike.

Lightning struck the 300 foot communications tower late Friday afternoon taking out phone service, computers, and forcing the building onto back up generators. 911 calls has to be rerouted to another county. Monday crews were out to further assess the damages.

Lee County 911 dispatchers were handling their own calls Monday. Friday night was a different story when a lightning strike to the building's communication tower rendered the center helpless.

"When that happened we lost our phones, our radios, the 911 lines especially were of concern to us," said Col. Duane Sapp, Lee County Sheriff's Office.

When 911 needs help who do they call? They called another 911 center, and in this case it was Mitchell County.

"It's a very simple procedure of transferring those calls through AT&T here to our center. We were fortunate to only have to answer about 12 emergency calls for Lee County, but that's exactly what we do in times of need," said Clark Harrell, Mitchell County 911 Director.

There's still damage at the jail, where their main electronic board was hit. Jail doors have to be locked and unlocked manually.

"Everything's locked, the inmates are safe and in behind closed doors, locked doors everything's safe and we just need to replace some equipment that got fried," said Sapp.

All in all, Lee County considers themselves lucky.

"If we'd have experienced this lightning strike four or five months ago before we had this new equipment we would be down until the equipment, until new equipment came because the replacement parts for the old equipment does not exist," said Sapp.

They're looking at future ways to direct lightning away from their tower to avoid future trouble.

Lee County continues to count their losses and isn't sure yet just how much the repairs will cost the county.

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