Outlining the process of restoring power after the January 2nd storm

Outlining the process of restoring power after the January 2nd storm
Linesmen have been restoring lines since Saturday (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The name weather scientists gave January 2nd's storm system is "damaging wind event."

It's a term that doesn't aptly describe the damage the high velocity straight line winds caused in Albany, and the destruction caused to the city's power grid.

The vast majority of people have power now, but there are less than 100 customers whose electricity is still not restored.

The collective efforts by linemen and debris crews in January as they worked in tandem to essentially rebuild large part's of the city's infrastructure can only be described as Herculean.

"We typically on an annual basis change out 200 poles in the whole city in a year's time, we almost doubled that in 30 days," said Albany Utilities Director of Operations Jimmy Norman.

Norman credits the mutual aid agreement with the Electric Cities of Georgia.

"They started rolling trucks at daylight the next morning," said Norman.

An additional 260 lineman joined the efforts, their relationship an invaluable resource.

"We have been on storm breaks before and have worked with these folks. It's almost like they are already knowledgeable about how to work together," said Norman.

Norman also credits the merger of the utilities with the city in January 2015 for helping speed up response time, specifically because now he and his Public Works equivalent, Stacey Rowe, know each other's assets.

"The biggest benefit this time I didn't have to call Stacey and ask him what he had. I already knew what he had. I could just say this is where we need this type of equipment and visa versa, he could do the same thing with me, Jimmy I got a problem here. We already knew each others resources and what we had to work with, it did make for a smoother operation," said Norman.

Reflecting on his team's response, Norman says there isn't really anything he could do differently.

"You know my customers are dear to my heart, and I always want to do things better, faster, smarter, wiser, but looking back there isn't very much we could have done much different," said Norman.

Those people without utilities today won't be coming back online because the damage was so severe, and the repairs too costly.

The cost to rebuild the city's power structure has cost $6.5 million already.

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