Hours of traffic, power outages and frustration - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Hours of traffic, power outages and frustration

March 4, 2008

Lee County--  Stormy weather snarled traffic in Lee County Tuesday for hours. Traffic was backed up in both directions on busy U.S. 19 after a tree brought down power lines across the roadway.

This set the scene for some headaches as drivers were trapped in traffic and businesses and homes were left in the dark.

The big problem started in the early afternoon hours. "We noticed the wind was blowing real hard," said driver Gregory Shingles.

Shingles saw it all as he came towards U.S. 19 and Kinchafoonee Creek Road. "All of a sudden the tree started to falling and we saw electrical shocks coming from the wires," said Shingles.

And those wires were coming towards him.

"Whoooo, I had to make a quick decision," said Shingles. A quick decision turned out to be the best one.

"I had to turn real sharp right here and I don't see how I made it but God had to be with me," said Shingles. But patience had to be with all the other drivers on this busy thoroughfare. After those lines came down, traffic had to be re-routed. By 5 p.m, traffic was a mess and backed up in both directions.

"It was insane," said driver Wayne Johnson.

It normally takes Wayne Johnson 10 minutes to get home. Tuesday was much different. "An hour and a half later," said Johnson.

Roads all over that section of Lee County got saturated with frustrated drivers. Traffic lights were out. At a standstill, drivers only had time on their hands.

"Just sat bumper to bumper," said Johnson.

Not only did the problem stop drivers, it shut down the Super Mart on 19. It was lights out for hours. "Everything. No power, nothing," said Kem Patel.

By 6:30, crews restored power and the open sign came back to life for owner Kem Patel. But he says those hours off hurt his business.

"Right now, the economy is slow and they killed me today. They killed you today? Yeah," said Patel. Now, he's just glad it's all over.

"After the power came back on, I felt better," said Patel. U.S. 19 drivers agree. It'll be a day they won't forget.

"I felt like I was in Atlanta," laughs Johnson.

But Gregory Shingles can tell the story best.

"God was with me," said Shingles.

Shingles was there from the start of it all, but luckily he also escaped the crowded, congested ending.

About 800 people lost power Tuesday afternoon and about 1,500 Mediacom customers also went black. Everyone should have been restored by 7:00 p.m.

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