Update: Area dodges major storm damage; Power back on

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 30, 2013 

Georgia Power Spokesman Robert Watkins said this morning all power has been restored to homes in Columbus, Manchester and Americus.

Watkins said on Wednesday afternoon that more than 2,000 area homes were without power due to the storm.

Columbus and the surrounding area skirted the edge of a powerful storm system Wednesday, avoiding the death and destruction the system brought to the north of the state.

There were no reports of funnel clouds in the area and no reports of significant property damage from winds.

About 840 of the outages were in the city limits, he said, and they were spread from Green Island Hills to South Columbus.

"It's very scattered trouble," he said.

The outlying area was hit harder, with almost 950 outages reported in and near Manchester. To the southeast, more than 260 were reported in the Americus area, Watkins said.

On the Alabama side, the power outages were more to the south, according to Freddy Padilla, an Alabama Power spokesman. About 2,200 homes in the Eufaula area were out and about 800 in the Phenix City area. Padilla said he had no reports of outages in the Auburn-Opelika area.

Because the storm front was moving so quickly through the area, Columbus received only about a half-inch of rain, WRBL Chief Meteorologist Bob Jeswald said.

"I know it seemed like a deluge, but it moved through very quickly," Jeswald said. "Had it been slower moving we probably would have seen some surface street flooding."

Ron Smith, deputy public works director for the city, said as of late afternoon, "18-20" reports of downed limbs or trees had been called in, "and they're still coming in."

Also as of late afternoon, police Lt. James Walton said there were no reports of incidents caused by the storm and no major intersections blocked.

In Phenix City, police Lt. Donnie Thomas said there were several trees and limbs down, but nothing major.

For many in the city, the arrival of the storm was an anticlimax. Throughout the day, area schools, governments and utilities had been monitoring the system as it tracked in a northeasterly direction along a span from the Gulf Coast to the Hudson Bay.

In Russell County, all non-emergency county personnel were dismissed early, as were students at many public and private schools. Muscogee County schools remained open all day but canceled after-school activities.

Georgia Power's storm center in Atlanta was activated and monitored the storm front and kept line crews on an alert status throughout the day and night, Watkins said.

"Everybody's on alert. The storm center in Atlanta is open to take a state-wide view of what's going on," Watkins said before the storm passed through. "Locally, we're just on alert and waiting to start picking up trouble if we have any."

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