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Washington County hard-hit by ice storm | News

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Washington County hard-hit by ice storm

Crews are still working to restore power to thousands of people in Washington County after the ice storm sent trees toppling onto power lines.

The Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Russell Riner, said "it'll be a few days before everyone's restored."

Multiple crews, many from out of town, are working to restore power lines.

"Every yard has limbs," said Riner. "Big ones, not little ones."

He said the clean-up will take weeks.

Riner said the entire town of Davisboro lost power until a generator was trucked in from Fort Gordon in Augusta.

Sandersville city administrator Judy McCorkle said 80% of the city lost power. She said crews from Fort Valley, Elberton, Cairo and the city of Monroe were helping to fix power lines.

Washington County Regional Medical Center was on generator power for hours. Electrical service has now been restored.

13WMAZ's Suzanne Lawler and Video Journalist Claudia Taylor saw lines out the door at fast-food restaurants -- hungry people who had no power at home.

The city's water system failed around 9 a.m. Thursday because it relies on electricity to pump water from six wells. Residents drew down the water supply stored in tanks.

McCorkle said four of six wells were gradually restored to service by late Thursday afternoon but water pressure rose and fell during the day, and a key well on the south end of town could not be restarted because the pump was damaged.

McCorkle said power crews were trying to keep up with falling trees. In some cases crews repaired a power line only to have another tree take the line out down the street.

"You can go outside and just hear the trees cracking," she said. "The trees are nothing but icicles."


Russell Riner, the EMA director, said the county opened its Emergency Operations Center at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Riner said he worked without a break until late Thursday afternoon when 911 calls finally tapered off.

Riner praised the county's emergency workers: "We stay there until it's done."

Looking ahead to the clean-up, Riner said when residents start piling up downed limbs at the curbside "it'll look like a tornado came through."

Around 11 p.m. Wednesday, a large oak crashed onto the roof at Paul and Donna Turner's house on Linton Road in Sandersville. The roof was smashed but the one-story brick home stood firm and no one was hurt.

Their neighbors offered the Turners food and shelter.

Paul Turner said "I'm thankful to the good Lord."

"On top of that, I'm thankful for the men who built this house in 1950. They built a darn-good house that took the weight of a big old tree."

(With Video Journalist Claudia Taylor)


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