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Take precautions now with power & water

            On the day after Christmas, when many of us crawled out of our homes to celebrate temperatures in the relatively balmy 30s and 40s, the arctic punch had already become a thing of the past. Possibly a little fodder stored up for future weather trivia. “Cold? Ha. This is nothing. Back in 2022 it got into the single digits and stayed.”

            According to various weather observers, cold of that nature, prolonged single digits spanning over parts of three days, hasn’t happened in about 40 years. It was called Winter Storm Elliott,  a generational event (places recorded the coldest temperatures in a generation) and a “bomb cyclone” – whatever that is.

            Sure we’ve had some cold snaps but a lot of us saw pipes that had never frozen, go solid.

            The city of Jasper perhaps felt the icy pain more so than anyone else in Georgia. They had ruptured lines and leaks in all parts of their system. It got so bad that their water tanks drained, further spreading the water woes. The city is working to upgrade their system but it took “heroic efforts” of city crews plus some outside contractors to minimize the outages on this one.

            You certainly can’t blame city officials for the fact their system wasn’t ready for a “generational cold.” But following the outages, in addition to thanking the crews, quite a few people have asked online and in person whether the water situation is compounded by the growth that has already forced Jasper to put a moratorium in place to try and get a grip on residential demand. As a local service contractor asked our editor while on a job, “they have outages all over the place, are they really thinking about adding the new subdivisions?”

            Fair question we would say. We would strongly encourage the city to take a full assessment of the problems that came to light and inform citizens fully on their efforts to shore up the systems. This is a case where it’s not anyone’s fault, no one could rightfully prepare for that many waterline issues but the town does want some reassurance going forward.

            Electricity, however, is another matter and one where we would encourage all homeowners to be pro-active. We may not experience cold like that again for another 40 years, but power outages happen – winter weather events, spring thunderstorms, or a new phenomenon – attacks on utility substations. Gunshots put a North Carolina county about our size out of power for a week at the end of last year.

            For whatever reason, chances are we’ll see power outages in 2023.

            The crews from Amicalola EMC and Ga. Power do a great job keeping the lights running and addressing problems where they did occur.

            Power outages remind us each time they happen is how dependent we are on the service. No longer is it a case of huddling up closer to the fireplace and bringing in a few candles. More and more people require health aids like supplemental oxygen and our more wired homes fare poorly when power is interrupted. Often with the combination of wells and cells, we lose water and communication when we lose power.

            Generators have become a necessity for many and they are the ultimate answer – if you can afford one. Prices are dropping and more homeowners are moving to their own backup power.

             We encourage everyone to give a little thought to their plans for future power outages.

            Backup heat sources that are safe, medical needs and equipment, a spot for your pets if you have to move to an emergency shelter, some way to keep your cell charged, plus the food on hand. Something simple, like storing a few gallons of water in the basement now to flush toilets or rinse dishes can really make a difference down the road.

            Winter Storm Elliott wasn’t any doomsday event and the response doesn’t require prepper-level intensity. But it is worthwhile to take a minute and be sure you are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us next.

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