Crews work to turn lights back on, repair damage
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Mar 20, 2013 | 5932 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An Anniston work crew cleans up storm damage in Zinn Park Tuesday. (Anniston Star photo by Eddie Burkhalter)
An Anniston work crew cleans up storm damage in Zinn Park Tuesday. (Anniston Star photo by Eddie Burkhalter)
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Thousands of people in eastern Alabama were waiting for the lights to come back on Tuesday and some students were looking for a place to stay after strong winds Monday wrecked roofs and snapped tree limbs and power lines.

Alabama Power was working Tuesday night to reconnect 36,621 customers in the company’s eastern division who were without power after Monday’s storm, said Alyson Tucker, a company spokeswoman.

About 7,193 of those customers were in the Anniston-Oxford area and 1,339 were in the Jacksonville area, Tucker said, as of 8:40 p.m.

She said it’s hoped that 90 percent of all eastern division customers will have their power back by 11:59 p.m. Thursday — that is, two more days of work for crews.

“We’ve got crews on the ground working as fast as they can,” Tucker said. “We’ve also called and gotten crews from other places to help us in an effort to get our customers back on as quickly as possible.”

The repair effort has moved on from downed main lines to outlying smaller branches, and that will take more time to repair, Tucker said.

“At this point, when we have the small pockets of people that are out, the actual equipment or wire running to your home has been damaged, and that requires that a crew be dispatched to that area,” Tucker said. “…We do have extra people out in those areas, and we’re trying to get to you as quickly as we can.”

Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative crews were working Tuesday afternoon to restore about 230 customers who were without power throughout their service area, said Jon Cullimore, manager of marketing and member services at Coosa Electric. More than 6,000 customers had been without electricity after the storm, with the largest concentration of those in the Ohatchee area.

Piedmont Power and Light Supervisor Phillip Johnson said that by Tuesday morning power had been restored to all of its customers. About 100 were without power Monday evening, Johnson said.

Students who live in Jacksonville State University’s Campus Inn Apartments were working with the university Tuesday to find new places to stay after heavy winds Monday lifted part of the roof off the building.

“Housing is working very hard to get them situated,” said Angie Finley, a JSU spokeswoman. “... Since they can’t cook in their apartments they’re making arrangements to help feed them in the dining hall. We’re trying our best to keep them comfortable.”

JSU’s Houston Cole Library remained closed to students Tuesday after its roof and an antenna mast were damaged during the storm. Classes held in the library have been cancelled until workers can assess the damage and begin repairs, Finley said.

Both the Ayers and McClellan campuses of Gadsden State Community College remained closed Tuesday morning after the storm knocked out power to both, said Kay Smith-Foster, community relations manager for the college.

By Tuesday afternoon, power had been restored to the Ayers campus, Foster said, and classes there will resume Wednesday.

Power remained off at the McClellan campus Tuesday afternoon, Foster said.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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