Digging Deeper: Storm preps despite no threat of rain - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Storm preps despite no threat of rain

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Businesses and homes along the east coast are bracing for Hurricane Irene.

Preparations are underway here in Albany too, but not because we're expected to see damage.

Public works and Water Gas & Light do routine maintenance just in case a storm like Irene comes our way.

It's the calm, before the storm.

Hurricane Irene blew through the Bahamas this morning and is bearing down on the east coast. Here in Albany it will be sunny as the storm passes Georgia by this time, but that doesn't mean there weren't preparations in the works. Public works crews were cleaning holding ponds today and that's not all.

"We've lowered all ponds that we can, we've had all of the pump stations, storm stations checked so that everything is working, back up generators have been checked," said Ann Zimmer Shepherd, P.E. Albany Sewer Superintendent.

Two trucks were cleaning storm lines today and two more were clearing sanitary sewer lines. Because officials never know whether they could be in the center of a storm.

"Because you never really know, the forecast for a tropical storm can be days out and by the time it actually hits like it did in New Orleans they weren't prepared because it looked like it was going elsewhere," said Shepherd.

Which is why routine maintenance is so essential. Digging Deeper we learned they're not the only ones. Water, Gas, and Light was cutting back trees along Stuart Avenue this week, leaving some unusually shaped trees behind, but more secure power lines in a storm.

"We do try to keep the threes on a three year maintenance plan so soon as we get through trimming trees in Albany which takes us three years, we start right back over where we were," said Lorie Farkas.

They also ensure plenty of supplies are on hand during storm prone times of the year.

"We make sure that we have transformers in case a transformer blows, we keep our equipment up to date, we have our own mechanical shop that takes care of any maintenance on our vehicles to make sure we have all of our truck and that they're operational," said Farkas.

Because pine is a soft wood, it doesn't take extremely heavy rain to bring down branches, and falling branches often lead to downed power lines. Managers say without preparation, customers could be in the dark.

Water gas and Light crews say if you notice sagging power lines or a branch perched over lines that they may have missed, you can call WG&L anytime to report it.

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