Thousands of crews began to turn the tide Thursday afternoon against the outages caused by this week’s storms, but the road back to normal is expected to be slow.
That means that tens of thousands of Georgians are likely to be without electricity and heat for at least several days more.
The impact of the storm that delivered ice and snow in a series of blows across the state continued Thursday to keep hundreds of thousands of Georgian households in the dark and the cold.
With tens of thousands of new outages reported across the state overnight and into the morning, the struggle to restore power to Georgia looks to be a back-and-forth battle that will last for days.
By late Thursday afternoon, about 254,000 customers across the state were without power – and since many customers are households of families, that number represents many more people who have been coping with an outage.
As of 9 p.m., the 40-plus members of Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives reported 78,600 customers without power. In addition, Georgia Power – the state’s largest single provider – reported 126,128 customers without power.
Since the storm began, power has been restored to more than 200,400 customers of the cooperatives, according to spokeswoman Terri Statham. Georgia Power had restored power to more than 330,000 customers.
After a full day of work Wednesday, thousands of crews for Georgia Power and the various cooperatives had seemed in late evening to be gaining the upper hand. But the tide turned against them in early morning.
Ten of thousands across the state lost electricity: At the worst, about 383,000 customers were without power Thursday morning.
Georgia EMC, a network of more than 40 cooperatives that account for about half the customers in the state, had reported more than 145,000 customers as of 8 a.m. In addition, Georgia Power reported more than 226,000 customers without power a little before 9:30 a.m.
Those numbers had been rising through the night as snow and sleet continued to fall in many areas and the two-day burden of ice became too much for many limbs and trees.
Georgia Power has had hundreds of crews restoring power since the lines first started going down on Wednesday morning, but the outages were still coming faster than the restorations. The turning of the tide should come Thursday as the precipitation stops falling and the temperatures finally rise above freezing – albeit, not far enough for a speedy melt.
Some individual EMCs reported a see-saw battle as the impact of the ice took back gains made Wednesday afternoon.
GreyStone Power, which provides service to 107,000 customers in parts of eight counties around metro Atlanta, had nearly 11,000 customers without power as of 9 a.m., according to spokeswoman Ashley Kramer.
“The ice has caused some trees to fall and tear down wires,” she said. “With the temperatures continuing to be below freezing through the night, the ice has continued to be a problem and we have seen the outages slowly climb.”
GreyStone had been down to 1,100 customers without power at 10 p.m. By 5 a.m., that number was up to 3,054 – but still less than one-third of the number of customers who had been without power at one point during the day Wednesday.
And things got worse as the morning went on.
But by afternoon, GreyStone’s crews were outpacing the outages. About 1,200 customers were still without power and electricity had been restored to 18,000 others, Kramer said.