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Strong winds of Hurricane Sandy blowing out power across counties

Flights canceled and hazardous driving stem from Sandy

JONESBORO— Winds from Hurricane Sandy are blowing into the Southern Crescent and affecting residents, and travelers.

Some Clayton and Henry county residents lost electricity due to the strong gusty winds Sunday, according to Georgia Power spokesman Brian Green.

Green said there were about 4,500 customers without power in Clayton County. There were minimal outages, in Henry County. Fewer than a couple of hundred customers there lost power.

“In Georgia, 5,500 people lost power due to high winds,” Green said. “In Clayton County, the majority of the outages were in Jonesboro.”

There are a number of newer homes built with underground power lines, and the strong winds caused the power outages in those houses, according to Georgia Power spokesperson Carol Boatright.

“The above ground power lines can be damaged by trees or limbs or any debris blowing into them,” Boatright said. “[The sub-station] is where they pick up the large amounts of electricity. Then they distribute it to the individual homes through under ground lines.”

Boatright said Sunday, the company sent 340 “line” personnel to assist Baltimore Gas and Electric with restoring power after the hurricane. Of those power crews, 210 crews were from the metro-Atlanta area. Four to six of those power crew members are from Clayton County, and it was about the same amount of crews from Henry County, she said.

They were scheduled to arrive in Virginia Monday afternoon.

“We are holding them in Virginia so they will be close by the storm but not in the path of the storm,” Boatright said. “We sent some personnel from every operating headquarters around the state. We did it that way so no one area was affected more than others.”

Boatright said there is no definite date set for when the power crews will return to Georgia.

“It depends on how much damage Hurricane Sandy causes when it comes ashore, and exactly where it comes ashore,” she said. “We know that if it creates the maximum damage they will probably ask for additional crews. At that time, we will evaluate the situation. We have not made any commitments to send more Georgia Power personnel.”

The National Weather Services has put travelers on alert, in the eastern states according to Alex Gibbs, National Weather Service Meteorologist.

People driving or flying to various eastern states should be prepared for the high winds, Gibbs said.

“A large-scale, low-pressure system has interacted with Sandy, and that’s what’s making it so bad,” Gibbs said. “There is energy associated with the jet stream that is starting to interact with Sandy. That low-pressure system is bringing us high winds.”

Green added flights at Hartsfield -Jackson Atlanta International Airport are probably canceled because when New York and other northern major airports are closed “that bottlenecks the eastern seaboard flights.”

According to Green, the high winds make it more difficult for drivers in high profile vehicles, such as sport utility vehicles (SUV’s), vans and other trucks.

“People need to be careful because it could make driving more difficult and the other concern would be minor tree limbs debris blown into the roadway,” he added.

Officials at the airport said they are not seeing a large number of stranded passengers because they are being advised before hand.

Myrna White, Marketing Director and Stakeholder Engagement for the airport, said 81 flights have been canceled so far for Tuesday travelers.

White said on Monday 293 flights were canceled along the northeast coast and Sunday, 20 flights were canceled at the airport, due to the hurricane.

“Delta canceled New York flights first, then Philadelphia,” White said. “The airlines are doing a good job of notifying passengers of cancellations. Passengers are calling their respective airlines to check the flight status beforehand.”