Storm damages zoo portion of Chehaw, rips Stuart Ave. neighborhoods - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Storm damages zoo portion of Chehaw, rips Stuart Ave. neighborhoods

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

January 7, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The zoo at the Parks at Chehaw is closed because of storm damage but will re-open Friday morning.

Dozens of trees were snapped in half, or torn out of the ground by high winds around 4:00AM. Park officials call it extensive.

A number of trees fell across walkways at the zoo entrance. Some animal enclosure fences were knocked down, like the elk enclosure, but all the animals were safe and accounted for when zoo workers arrived. 

"So the rhinos were in the barn and the bears. Many of the animals are locked away at night for their safety and security. So they are all fine this morning. Now the elk were out in this area when the trees were falling. The public areas are a mess," said Chehaw Executive Director Doug Porter. "It's a little worse than I thought initially."

At sun up, park employees were already working to clear the downed trees and mend the fences. But the zoo will be closed until they can repair what they are calling extensive damage.

 "Now I see all these fences down and we've got some pretty significant damage to some boardwalks. And unfortunately it was not in the boardwalks we were going to replace anyway."

Porter said most of the repair work can be done by his staff, and they hope to have the zoo open by the weekend.

The rest of the Parks at Chehaw did not have any damage, and will remain open.

Some of the worst storm damage was along Stuart Avenue, near WALB-TV.

Two power poles were broken by falling trees and limbs, including this one in the alley between Stuart and Elkhorn Lane. Heavy limbs fell across the lines, breaking the pole. Water Gas and Light officials estimate that 250 homes and businesses lost power for about an hour and a half due to the damage.

At sunrise, Water Gas and Light workers cut the limbs off the power lines, and cut down the damaged trees. They put up a new pole next to the broken one, and moved the lines onto it.

"Yea, just high winds. Trees coming down on the power lines, causing stress on the poles and breaking them off," said Light Director Jimmy Norman.

WG&L officials estimate they had about 50 people working on downed lines and broken poles after this morning's storm. All customer's power was restored by 9:30.

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