A Georgia State Patrol officer checks on an abandoned vehicle along SR-20/Buford Drive in Buford Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
Even with the first half of Wednesday passing relatively uneventfully for Gwinnett police and fire, the county has opened a call center specifically for storm-related issues.
The worst may be yet to come.
The second wave of Winter Storm Pax began pounding metro Atlanta and north Georgia shortly after midnight Wednesday, bringing with it snow and ice. Firefighters stayed busy with downed trees and power lines, but the vast majority of Gwinnettians stayed off the road, limiting the number of incidents for police to respond to.
“All is quiet right now,” Gwinnett County police spokesman Sgt. Randy Work said. “Everyone is staying at home.”
Work said there were actually fewer accidents than normal Wednesday because so few people were on the road.
On the fire department side, Capt. Tommy Rutledge said personnel stayed active throughout the first half of Wednesday but there were “no reports of major damage or serious injury as a result of the storm thus far.”
Fire crews responded to the following incidents, among others:
— At about 5:45 a.m., reports came in of a tree and wires down and blocking Chandler Road near Grayson New Hope Road in Grayson. Georgia Power was “working to remove the tree,” which was blocking all lanes of Chandler Road, and repair the line.
— At about 7:45 a.m., reports came in of a generator fire inside a home on the 3100 block of Spring Drive in Doraville. Responding crews found now sign of a house fire but did discover a tree and live wires down.
“The power company has been requested and crews and standing by due to the line arcing and sparking a small fire in the tree,” Rutledge said.
— Also at about 7:45 a.m., reports came in of a live wire down in a front yard on Anderson Livsey Lane near Snellville.
— At about 10:25 and 10:45 a.m., respectively, crews responded to trees that fell on homes on Grace Hadaway Lane and Ravinia Court in Lawrenceville. No injuries were reported in either incident.
— At about 11:40 a.m., crews reported to Haley Court in Lilburn after a resident reported a fire that started in the chimney and set their roof on fire.
“Responding crews quickly entered the house and extinguished the fire and checked the entire residence of fire extension and hidden fire,” Rutledge said. No injuries were reported.
— At about 11:55 a.m., crews responded to a small furnace fire on Cold Spring Drive in Lilburn.
Rutledge urged drivers Wednesday to continue to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary and warned that handling downed wires is best left to the professionals.
Compared to the storm of Jan. 28 and 29, Wednesday was a breeze for Gwinnett County police.
During the initial 24-hour period of the first storm, GCPD responded to 415 road hazard calls and another 185 “assist motorist” calls. Snellville police helped at least 100 different vehicles navigate Scenic Highway near Ronald Reagan Parkway.
Statewide, the Georgia State Patrol said it dealt with 106 crashes through Wednesday afternoon. More than 1,200 incidents were reported during last month’s storm.
While fire personnel dealt with downed trees and wires Wednesday — and will likely continue to do so — they handled nearly 300 calls, including 60 auto accidents, between Jan. 28 and 29.
Shortly before noon Wednesday, Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash posted on Facebook that the county had opened a special call line during the storm.
“In order to reserve the 911 center for emergency telephone calls during the winter weather event, Gwinnett County has opened a non-emergency call center for all storm-related issues,” Nash wrote. “If you have a non-emergency issue related to the weather, please call 770-513-5600 to speak with a call center representative for assistance.”