No fatalities in recent storm

Published 10:40 am Friday, October 30, 2020

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UPDATE: As of Nov. 2 at 10 p.m., Alabama Power had restored power to all but 1,000 of its Chilton County customers.

“A workforce of more than 5,000 line crews and support personnel from Alabama Power and 24 states and Canada are continuing their work tonight to restore power to all customers affected by Hurricane Zeta,” Mike Jordan of Alabama Power said.

By JOYANNA LOVE/Managing Editor

Tropical Storm Zeta blew through Chilton County on Oct. 28-29. Downed trees, limbs and broken power poles have led to what will be a multi-day restoration effort.

Alabama Power and Central Alabama Electric Cooperative crews and many others that have come in to assist have been working tirelessly to restore power to thousands of customers.

While there has been damage to property throughout the county, there has been no loss of life.

“We were very, very fortunate it could have been a lot worse,” Sheriff John Shearon said.

He said there have been no fatalities from the storm and, as far as he knows, no injuries.

“We are just blessed to not have anything like that,” Shearon said.

Volunteer firemen, city crews, county crews, Sheriff’s Office personnel and various volunteers were out clearing trees wherever possible on Oct. 29.

“I appreciate everybody’s help, whether they knew people or not everyone came out to help clean up yard and clean up roads,” Shearon said.

There were some vehicle wrecks due to fallen trees on roadways, but no injuries’ have been reported.

Some wrecks as people headed out and damage to properties and vehicles

Alabama Power had 10,000 customers without power within the county at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29. This was after 4,000 Alabama Power customers in Chiton County had power restored.

Residents are encouraged to stay away from downed power lines.

“Treat all downed power lines as if they are energized,” Mike Jordan of Alabama Power said.

Central Alabama Electric Cooperative reported 8,900 customers in Chilton County were without power at 2 p.m. on Oct. 29.

“While good progress has been made, extensive damage remains,” Jordan stated in a release. “There are hundreds of fallen trees which have resulted in numerous broken power poles and multiple spans of downed wire. As a result, this will be a multiple day power restoration event.”

Approximately 75% of all CAEC customers had been without power immediately following the storm.

“Our crews are working extended hours to restore power to all of those affected by Tropical Storm Zeta,” said CAEC President and CEO Tom Stackhouse in a press release. “We haven’t seen an outage event of this scale since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and we appreciate our members for their understanding and patience during this extreme weather event.”

Jordan said work to restore power began as soon as it was safe for crews to be out. In Chilton County, this was early on the morning of Oct. 29 and is expected to continue throughout the day.

Jordan said power would be restored “as safely and as quickly as possible.”

CAEC stated “More than 100 employees are working to restore power with assistance from Joe Wheeler Electric Cooperative and numerous contract crews with more help on the way.”

On Oct. 30, CAEC posted this update on its Facebook “We are still waiting on three substations — Union Grove, Jones and Maplesville — to come online due to transmission line damage, which Alabama Power Company is working to repair. While we are repairing the lines/equipment feeding out from these subs, we cannot evaluate the full extent of damage down the line until the subs are operational. Crews will be working to replace/repair the main distribution lines again today — these three-phase lines are what feed tap lines that run-down roads and neighborhoods. We have many three-phase poles that must be replaced so repairs can be made. As these lines are repaired, it will restore power to some areas. This is also why you may not see crews in your neighborhood or why some may have power and you do not.”

Chilton County Schools completed a damage assessment of buildings on oct. 29.

There was roof damage on one academic building at LeCroy Career Technical Center and the back doors of the gym at Verbena were blown in.

There was also damage to the roof of the Chilton County High School softball dugout

“We were very blessed I was surprised we didn’t have more damage,” Griffin said.

A temporary roof will be put on the building at LCTC so classes can be held on Nov. 2. A temporary fix will also be put in place for Verbena’s doors until the doors can be replaced.

The school system also saw some damage to fences and awnings.

Griffin anticipated power will be restored over weekend to have school on Nov. 2.