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Augusta-area residents continue to deal with storm's aftermath

First the shivers, then the shakes

Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 10:49 AM
Last updated Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 2:22 AM
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The treacherous tangle of power lines and tree limbs left in the wake of this week’s ice storm will continue through the weekend for many Augusta-area residents.

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Chuck Griffin, a worker with Heart Utilities of Jacksonville Inc., cuts a line on Verdery Street in Augusta. Thousands were still without power late Friday afternoon, and Georgia Power shifted most of its personnel to the Augusta area.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Chuck Griffin, a worker with Heart Utilities of Jacksonville Inc., cuts a line on Verdery Street in Augusta. Thousands were still without power late Friday afternoon, and Georgia Power shifted most of its personnel to the Augusta area.

SLIDESHOW: HALEY VISITS

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SLIDESHOW: AUGUSTA DAMAGE

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SLIDESHOW: AIKEN DAMAGE

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Georgia Power spokeswoman Amy Fink said the company has shifted the majority of its available resources, about 2,500 personnel, to the Augusta area, where 78,000 customers remained without power Friday afternoon.

Fink said that by midnight, 95 percent of Augusta customers should be restored.

Jefferson Electric, which serves much of south Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties, reported Friday afternoon that 12,745 of its customers remained without power, out of 27,000 who lost service during the storm.

In Aiken County, 30,000 South Caro­lina Electric and Gas customers were still without power Friday, spokeswoman Stephanie Jones said. The company anticipates having 90 percent to 95 percent of customers back with service by 11 a.m. Monday, she said.

In a news conference Friday at the Rich­mond County Emergency Manage­ment Of­fice, Mayor Deke Co­pen­haver said he is confident that power companies are doing their best to restore service lost in what he called the worst storm to hit the Augusta area.

“I feel confident in what they’re doing out there,” he said. “I wish we could have a crew in every neighborhood, but it’s a question of Georgia Power’s resources or our local resources to get crews out to clean up the city as well.”

Crews and residents emerged on the sunny Friday to continue removing debris left in yards, roads and rights-of-way by the ice storm.

Officials in Augusta, North Augusta, Aiken and Columbia County said residents can leave tree limbs and other yard waste at the curb for pickup. Aiken County residents were asked to transport the material to the landfill if possible.

“We’re using what we call best efforts,” said Mark Johnson, Augusta’s environmental services director. “We will not reach everybody, but we are going to get as many as we can.”

Augusta Engineering and En­viron­mental Services departments are implementing staging areas where residents can drop off storm debris. Private contractors are required by city code to haul away any debris they cut.

By this morning, Augusta staging locations will be at Lake Olmstead, across from the CSRA Humane Society at 12 Wood St.; at Eisenhower Park, 1488 Eisen­hower Drive; and at the landfill portion on the side of Carrie J. Mays Park, 1014 11th Ave., Johnson said.

The city’s two contracted waste haulers will run yard waste routes today in accessible areas, he said. He said rules regarding the size of yard waste will “be a little flexible” and allow residents to place larger limbs at the curb for pickup.

He said residents should cut them into a size “manageable by human power.” Any­thing larger, such as a stump dragged to the curb by a vehicle, is too large, Johnson said.
“This is going to be weeks,” he said. “People are going to expect a lot more of us than what we can deliver in a week.”

The staging areas allow the city to better assess the amount of debris being removed for federal damage estimates, city Traffic En­gi­nee­ring Director Steve Cas­sell said.

The Federal Emergency Man­age­ment Agency could foot all or part of the cleanup bill if the area receives a federal disaster declaration. President Obama signed a Georgia emergency declara­tion Tuesday, while Gov. Nathan Deal extended the state’s declaration of emergency for 15 counties, including Richmond, Columbia and Burke, until Wednesday.

At least 200 Augusta-Rich­mond County homes saw storm-related structural damage caused primarily by falling trees, according to a statement from Deal’s office.

Georgia Emergency Man­agement Agency, local and FEMA officials have begun conducting preliminary damage assessments, but the process “will begin in earnest next week” to determine whe­ther to seek a federal disaster declaration, Deal spokes­man Brian Robinson said.
GEMA Director Ken Davis said the storm’s costs, including that of restoring power to hundreds of thousands of customers statewide and a massive debris removal effort, appeared likely to meet both the state threshold of $13.6 million and county per capita threshold of $3.50 for the federal declaration.

“I would say that I feel confident that we will get (the funds),” Copenhaver said.

Staff Writer Travis Highfield contributed to this story.

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Just My Opinion
5706
Points
Just My Opinion 02/14/14 - 12:37 pm
2
3
I'm sure I speak for MANY, if

I'm sure I speak for MANY, if not all of my neighbors when I say that I wish Columbia County would offer to pick up out limbs and storm-related yardwaste as well. Looks like all of us are going to have to either pay someone out of our pocket to come get it, or we can just load it up and take it over the county line!

mad consumer
178
Points
mad consumer 02/14/14 - 02:30 pm
3
0
Richmond has city owned trash pick up

Columbia co is private haulers so the county won't pick up the tab where Richmond is city owned and taxes will pay for it.

kmb413
533
Points
kmb413 02/14/14 - 03:02 pm
0
0
Taxes

Guess Richmond County residents won't be screaming so loudly over trash pickup this week. Luckily mine is included in home owners insurance for yard pick up related to storm damage.

yesiwill
79
Points
yesiwill 02/14/14 - 04:39 pm
3
0
stay tuned

"Columbia County Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker said she made a good case for federal aid and Deal was supportive. Federal aid would pay for a contractor for debris removal as well as the county’s disaster costs such as fuel."

Robby368
8
Points
Robby368 02/14/14 - 05:34 pm
1
1
more details

My in-law told me she heard on the radio you can put the limbs at the curb and they'll be picked up? Is this true? If they have to be put in trash containers, then I'm going to need about 20 of them!

corgimom
33197
Points
corgimom 02/14/14 - 05:37 pm
0
3
Well, you're way ahead of

Well, you're way ahead of Charlotte, we have absolutely no idea when trash pickup will resume, they've already missed 3 days.

corgimom
33197
Points
corgimom 02/14/14 - 05:38 pm
0
3
We still can't get out of our

We still can't get out of our driveway onto the road, there's so much ice and snow. Who knows when they will finally get around to plowing our street.

Sean Moores
533
Points
Sean Moores 02/14/14 - 05:45 pm
1
0
@Robby368

You can put them on the curb. They are loosening the requirement that they be cut a certain length. They said limbs just have to be able to be loaded by hand.

Sean Moores
533
Points
Sean Moores 02/14/14 - 05:46 pm
3
0
Columbia County debris removal

Pam Tucker sent us this email about Columbia County debris removal:

Columbia County To Provide Tree/Limb Debris Removal!

Columbia County citizens are requested to go ahead and move all of the clean and wood debris (trees/limbs) from their private property to the right of way. Please make sure you have it at least 8 to 10 feet from the curb so it is easily accessible for pickup.

This needs to be completed as soon as possible so that when the County’s Debris Removal Contractor comes by starting next Wednesday, February 19th, it is ready to be picked up. They will only come through each area one time, so make sure you have it out by the curb by Wednesday.

We are in coordination with the Georgia VOAD Team (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) and to send us a chainsaw crew to assist elderly or disabled citizens with getting their debris to the curb. We hope that most of our citizens can move their own debris to the curb (and hopefully can help their elderly or disabled neighbors) – but for those who do not have help, please call Columbia County EOC at (706) 868-3303 at any time day or night - and we will put you on a list for assistance. Just leave your name, address and phone number if you get voicemail.

IMPORTANT! DON’T BE SCAMMED! There are people going through neighborhoods now telling citizens that if you pay them to cut up your trees and limbs, that the county will come by and pick it up. And there is another group claiming that they are sent by insurance companies to clean up. Again, these are scams.

dichotomy
33547
Points
dichotomy 02/15/14 - 05:20 pm
0
0
Jefferson Energy.....only 47%

Jefferson Energy.....only 47% restored.......PLEASE HIRE SOME HELP.

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