For all of the dire predictions about the downed trees, power outages and driving hazards that would accompany Winter Storm Pax, the second storm of winter did little more locally than shut down schools and government and leave upwards of five inches of snow/ice/sleet on the ground.
“Our citizens did a great job getting prepared and the impacts have been minimal,” observed Jackson County public safety director Steve Nichols. “We are seeing an increase in calls now (Thursday morning) due to folks starting to get out, and the roads are still very dangerous. There are no power outages at present, and they have been very limited and quickly restored throughout this event.”
Jackson EMC had summoned contractor crews but ended up not needing them.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, Georgia’s EMCs reported approximately 124,000 customers without power statewide, but in the Jackson County area there were few outages.
Jackson EMC reported three outages affecting 12 customers on Wednesday in Jackson County, one outage affecting one customer in Banks County and six outages affecting a total of 22 customers in Madison County.
That good fortune was a result of the storm not delivering the freezing rain expected on Wednesday, which would have caused trees, limbs and power lines to fall.
While roads became covered with snow, there were relatively few that were impassable. Interstate 85, U.S. 441 and U.S. 129 provided reliable routes for motorists. Locally, Jackson County and Commerce public works departments kept city and county streets in good enough condition to allow people to get to grocery stores or wherever else they needed to go. The vast majority of people appeared to heed public officials’ warnings about dangerous roads, as traffic during the storm was minimal. Most businesses shut down, and schools were closed.
“We’ve spread probably 11 tons of sand, gravel, salt,” noted Commerce public works director Rick Lewis, who said his crews’ priorities were “keeping the public safety complex open and the hospital in good shape as well, their emergency room entrance and main entrance.”
The city had crews out in 12-hour shifts during the entire storm, plowing and scraping.
“We should be in good shape,” Lewis said Thursday at noon. “These guys deserve a kudos. They’ve worked very hard to keep the roads in good shape.”
On Friday, the focus will shift to clearing ice off parking areas and sidewalks in the commercial areas “to get Commerce open again,” Lewis said.
There were now power outages on the Commerce system during the storm, Lewis said.
Local schools closed Tuesday through Thursday. A decision on whether to open school on Friday is expected by 8 p.m. Thursday.