After a winter storm blasted parts of Southeast Georgia with more snow than they had seen in nearly 30 years, thousands remained without power Thursday afternoon, prompting concerns about heating homes, with temperatures expected to hit record lows overnight.
More than 215 Glynn County residents and nearly 10 Camden County customers were without power at about 10 p.m. Thursday, according to websites for Georgia Power and the Okefenokee Co-op.
Many of those Georgia homes are on well water, and when they lose electricity they also lose water, because the pump has no power. That means residents have limited means to heat their homes with no power and no way to drip their pipes.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a also huge concern overnight for fuel based free-standing heaters brought inside.
The Sidney Lanier Bridge closed just after 5 p.m. Major ice build-up on the bridge and subsequent melting has caused large pieces of ice to fall and to become a danger to motorists on the roadway. Georgia State Patrol will be posted at each entrance to divert drivers.
The Bridge will remained closed until Friday afternoon, Glynn County officials said.
Please seek alternate routes to and from Brunswick via Highway 303 and Interstate 95.
Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal late Tuesday declared a state of emergency for 28 counties in the coastal region.
The counties included in the executive order are: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Coffee, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Echols, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Ware and Wayne.
The executive order will be in effect from Wednesday through 11:59 p.m. Friday.
Thursday morning, drivers were cautioned that despite clearing conditions, black ice could still make travel treacherous.
The snow and ice that melted Wednesday re-froze overnight, creating icy patches.
"You don't see snow. You don't see ice. I was around in '89, but it's just different, you know, having to wear layers every day," Camden County resident Wendell Holmes said. "It's very important to maybe just stay inside today."
The outside northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 95 at the Georgia-Florida line were closed overnight due to ice on the road.
By Thursday afternoon, most of the ice had melted away, but dangers remained and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency urged residents to protect the three Ps: People, pets and plants.
According to City Manager Raphel Maddox, the city of Waycross closed all offices Wednesday and resumed operations at 11 a.m. Thursday. Maddox said the decision was made as a safety precaution for all city residents and employees.
A Hard Freeze Warning along with low wind chill temperatures are expected across the area Thursday night into Friday morning.
Additional widespread hard freezes are anticipated again Friday night / Saturday morning.
A hard freeze warning remains in effect from 8 p.m. Thursday through 10 a.m. Friday, and a hard freeze watch is in effect from Friday evening through Saturday morning.
A hard freeze Warning means that temperatures 27 degrees or less are expected for at least two hours. These conditions will kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.
To prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes, pipes should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly. Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain their systems, or cover any above- ground pipes to protect them from freezing.
Pets are also suspect to the extreme cold. Keep pets indoors as much as possible. If this is not possible, make sure outdoor pets have warm dry shelter, and provide sufficient food and fresh unfrozen water.
A hard freeze watch means that temperatures 27 degrees or less are possible for at least two hours.
A warming shelter at First United Methodist Church at 1400 Norwich St. will be open again Thursday night from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m.. Cots will not be provided at this location.
Republic Services will begin picking up solid waste, recycling and yard waste on Friday. All residents are asked to place their waste on the curb as soon as possible.
Republic Services will be following an amended schedule and working longer hours in order to resume normal pick-up days and hours starting on Monday.
Household garbage only can also be disposed of at the drop-off centers free of charge also starting Friday. There are two drop-off centers located at 550 Young Lane in Brunswick and Demere Road behind the farmers market on St. Simons Island. The extended hours for both centers are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday.
Storm-related yard debris will not be picked up unless you have contracted with Republic Services for annual debris pick up services. These can also be taken to the drop-off centers for an additional charge.
For questions or if a home owners association needs verification regarding this pickup schedule call the Glynn County customer service number at 912-554-7111.
To report downed trees call the Glynn County Non-emergency Line at 912-554-3645. For limbs or trees on power lines or power outages please call Georgia Power at 1-888-891-0938 or Okefenoke Rural EMC at 1-800-262-5131.
Georgia Power and Okefenoke Rural EMC have resources in place to respond as quickly as possible to power outages.
Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and Glynn County Public works will continue to monitor roadway conditions and take necessary precautions.
For more helpful tips during winter weather please visits these sites:
All Glynn County public schools will resume on Friday.
"Our schools are in good condition, systems are up and running, roads are clear and power has been restored to most of Glynn County, so we feel good about starting school tomorrow and getting back to normal," said Glynn County Schools Superintendent Dr. Virgil Cole. "With the days lost earlier this year to Hurricane Irma and the day we lost yesterday to the ice storm, it's important that we get back in the classroom and get the second semester rolling."
Cole said that the school system's Transportation Department is working through some minor issues with bus batteries, but that he expected routes to run fairly smoothly on the first day back after the holiday break.
"It will still be chilly out, so parents should make sure their children are dressed warmly in case there are some minor delays," Cole said.
School cafeterias will offer a limited menu due to food delivery issues experienced during the storm. Athletic and extracurricular activities will resume on Friday according to their normal schedules as well.
"We understand that this storm created a lot of hardships for families throughout the area, and that some people think we should just cancel school on Friday too," Cole said. "However, we also know that most people will be returning to work and getting back to a normal schedule and will be counting on schools to be open. We just ask for everyone's patience and understanding. 2018 has certainly gotten off to an interesting start, but we're looking forward to a great second half of the school year."
The Glynn County Board of Education meetings scheduled for Jan. 4 and Jan. 9 will be rescheduled for one week later.
County officials said all Camden County offices will reopen for regular hours Friday.
The Board of Assessors Meeting scheduled for Thursday has been canceled.
After assessing weather conditions and working with local agencies for verification, Camden County Schools will resume classes on Friday. All staff and students are to report to school at the regularly scheduled time on Friday to start second semester.
Officials asked Camden County residents to continue to monitor the weather conditions through the National Weather Service. Regular updates will also be posted to the Camden County website and the Facebook pages for Camden County Government and Camden County Emergency Management Agency.
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Health departments in Camden, Glynn, and McIntosh counties and district offices will open at 8 a.m.
Health departments in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties will open to clients at 1 p.m.
Long County Health Department has not been open on Fridays due to staffing issues and will not open tomorrow.