Ice Storm costly for WG&L and local businesses - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Ice Storm costly for WG&L and local businesses

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  South Georgia's ice storm two weeks ago cost Albany's Water, Gas, and Light Commission more than $65,000.

The storm knocked out power to 7,000 customers in the city. Thursday, W-G-&-L managers talked about the damage and the hardships they faced with the clean up.

The morning of the storm, ice clung to power lines and tree branches. Many businesses in this area were without power, but those who had power enjoyed record sales.

Monday, January 10th was the busiest day of the year at Pearly's.

"Almost a record day, certainly a record Monday, certainly," said Carl Young, Pearly's Manager.

That's because they were one of the few businesses Albany's ice storm didn't shut down.

"I give credit to divine intervention, that's what I think, at the Pearly Gates we had divine intervention working for us that day," said Young.

WG&L did not. The freezing rain and ice wreaked havoc on pine trees and power lines. 13 of 51 circuits were locked out, knocking out power to 7,000 customers.

"We started on Friday tracking the storm and had been in communication with electric cities and had talked about different ideas, different cities that had crews available if different people needed help," said Jimmy Norman, WG&L Light Director.

The outages started at 5:00 AM, all but 50 of the 7,000 customers had service by 11:30 PM that night. Those remaining 50 customers had power again by 11:00 AM Tuesday as crews spent the next few hours cleaning up additional problem areas. The total cost to make the repairs more than $65,000.

"That's why we talk all the time at our board meetings about having enough money in our reserves because one storm can be upwards, even in the summer with a rain storm upwards of $100,000 or $150,000," said Lorie Farkas, WG&L Assistant General Manager of Customer Relations.

Every available WG&L employee was working that day over the 18 hours it took to get the power back on. After hearing what others lost, the folks at Pearly's considers themselves lucky.

"Exceedingly lucky, and lucky for the customers that needed a place to go," said Young.

For those who went without much of the day, it's a day they won't soon forget.

There's still 52 days left before we reach the first day of spring. WG&L says the opportunity is there for another storm, that's why they caution everyone to be prepared.

WG&L officials say they had no lineman injuries the day of the ice storm, they also had no broken poles that day which helped with the clean up process.


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