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Ga., S.C. road crews and power companies were prepared for ice

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:10 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:11 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Road crews across Georgia and South Carolina started preparing for winter weather predicted Friday night and Saturday morning, while power providers were ready to deal with any outages.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials mobilized crews and planned to start applying a brine solution to Bobby Jones Expressway around 8 p.m. Friday.

Brine could keep ice from forming on the pavement as freezing rain, snow and sleet falls.

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Crews said they had 90,000 gallons of brine on hand for the Augusta area.

At least 100 employees were being sent out in the Augusta area, and they planned to be out from Friday evening to Saturday morning.

And across the Savannah River, the South Carolina Department of Transportation had all hands on deck, with all 2,500 of its employees on standby.

“SCDOT workers are now being called to be prepared to work around the clock again,” said Brittany Harriot, SCDOT spokesperson. “So we have 24-hour operations going into effect.”

In addition to employees, the department will partner with private contractors like they did last week to position wreckers along interstates in the hopes of avoiding any potential lengthy backups.

The agency pretreated roads Friday morning in Aiken, Edgefield, Barnwell and Bamberg counties after the rain died down.

Crews said they’d be monitoring the roads and waiting for the expected winter precipitation and treat it as it comes.

They were also checking bridges Friday in Aiken County.

SCDOT began pre-treating some roads in the state on Thursday. With rain throughout the evening, the department did things a little differently this time.

“We just switch up our tactic in the sense of not applying salt brine first because that will wash away quicker and using hard salt rock which would go down first and we’ll just keep applying that as necessary until the ice comes and then we’ll switch to salt brine,” Harriot said.

SCDOT employees loading salt in preparation for a winter storm. (SCDOT file photo)
SCDOT employees loading salt in preparation for a winter storm. (SCDOT file photo)(SCDOT)

Interstates get first priority, followed by primary roads and areas near medical facilities and emergency shelters.

SCDOT says ice and heavy rain can still be very dangerous, and crews are urging you not to travel on the roads during the storm unless absolutely necessary.

Jill Nagel, with GDOT, also asks drivers to monitor conditions and avoid any unnecessary trips on the road during and after the storm so crews can get them safe again.

“It helps us do our job with less traffic, especially if we do have this weather event and we’re spreading brine and salting the roadways,” Nagel said.

Power providers are prepared

Dominion Energy is preparing for the worst-case scenario, which could include widespread power outages.

“Right now we are strategically placing our crews around the state at various sites,” Dominion Energy spokesperson Matt Long said. “We’re staging them in Columbia, in North, St. Matthews, Blythewood to make sure that they are ready to respond as needed throughout the system if the worst does happen here in South Carolina.”

To help with power restoration for this weather event, Dominion has called in 100 linemen from Tennessee and Alabama.

Meter Infrastructure and Dispatch Manager Larry Yonce, Manager of Operations Marty Silvers and...
Meter Infrastructure and Dispatch Manager Larry Yonce, Manager of Operations Marty Silvers and Dispatcher Tammy Reese are shown in Aiken Electric Cooperative's dispatch center.(WRDW)

Aiken Electric Cooperative said it continues to monitor the weather conditions and is prepared should our service territories be affected by ice and snow this weekend. Crews and additional contractor crews have their trucks fully equipped and are on standby in the case of inclement weather.

If members find themselves experiencing an outage at any time, the quickest and most efficient way to alert our the 24/7 dispatch center is by calling or texting “OUT” to 877-264-5368. Members can also report outages through the co-op’s mobile app. Restoration updates will be announced on Facebook, and progress can be viewed on the outage map at aikenco-op.org.

What you can do

Here’s some cold-weather advice from the Augusta Fire Department and Emergency Management Agency and South Carolina Emergency Management Division:

  • Plan on being home and remaining there until the storm is over.
  • If you must go out, give yourself extra time and drive at a safer and slower speed. During winter storm weather, it is best to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel. If you must travel, ensure your vehicle is in good condition. Check the fluids, battery, and tires. Ensure that your phone is charged and you have extra blankets and snacks in case of delays. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Turn off sprinkler systems to prevent water runoff from freezing on the roads.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable, plug them directly into an outlet or UL-certified power strip, and make sure they have an auto-shutoff if they tip over. Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them. Properly vent kerosene heaters to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
  • Have three days of supplies at home. Make sure you have flashlights, blankets, and any non-perishable foods and water.
  • Be sure not to use candles. These can be a fire hazard.
  • Use caution when around generators. Make sure you are following all the correct precautions when using them.
  • Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so they can be used during an emergency.
  • If you lose power, know how to report the outage to your utility company and have alternate, safe means of staying warm.
  • Monitor local media for information about warming shelters opened by local organizations.
  • Freezing temperatures can burst water pipes in homes without heat or proper insulation. Wrap exposed pipes or take other measures to insulate them from the cold.
  • Never operate a portable generator indoors.
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.
  • Provide some options for outdoor pets and domestic animals to stay warm and to have access to food and water.
  • Check on anyone who may need extra help during winter weather.

“The best thing people can do is to start preparing today for a day of potentially hazardous conditions,” Augusta Fire Chief/EMA Director Antonio Burden said.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT, WMBF and WTOC