Irma and Gwinnett, Day 2: Tens of thousands still without power

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Irma and Gwinnett, Day 2: Tens of thousands still without power

Tropical Storm Irma kept Gwinnett County first responders busy on Monday — and was doing so on Tuesday, too.

Downed trees, road closures and power outages remained problems throughout the day.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday, roughly 41,000 Gwinnett County residents were lacking electricity, according to outage maps from Georgia Power and the Walton, Jackson and Sawnee EMCs. That number was several thousand smaller than when Tuesday started but still significant.

Between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday, Gwinnett County police responded to a total of 1,487 calls for service.

Gwinnett County fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said that, between 7 a.m. Monday and noon Tuesday, his department responded to about 1,029 calls — 335 that were for wires down and 140 for trees down.

“Irma has proven to be everything forecasters promised it would be,” Rutledge said. 

More than 230 blocked roads had been addressed since Monday but, at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, 45 county roads were still closed, spokeswoman Heather Sawyer said. A list of closed roads released by the police department can be found here.

The Gwinnett County Police Department tweeted another update around 3 p.m.

The Gwinnett Department of Transportation had also addressed 229 reports of flashing traffic signals, Sawyer said. About 27 were “still dark” due to power outages.

At least three people in Gwinnett have been injured in Irma-related incidents, though no deaths have been reported. Gwinnett County fire released Monday details about rescues at a mobile home in Loganville and at a home in Snellville, both which had residents trapped by fallen trees. 

Information was later released about a tree that fell on an apartment building on South Old Norcross Tucker Road. A large pine fell through the roof of four apartment units, causing “extensive” damage, Rutledge said. 

One person was evaluated at the scene for a minor injury.

Gwinnett County Public Schools are closed for the second straight day Tuesday, as are the county’s library branches. Trash pickup was also cancelled.

Gwinnett County Transit did not run express service buses. Trials and hearings were canceled but other goverment offices were expected to operate normal hours.

 Though the brunt of Irma had passed by Tuesday morning, Gwinnett residents were urged to stay off the road.

“The opportunities for injury after a storm are long and potentially fatal, but two – flooded streets and downed powerlines – are often avoidable hazards,” Sawyer said in a news release.

Nevertheless, many Gwinnettians left their homes Tuesday morning — for something as basic as the quest for coffee.

A tree fell on an apartment building on Old South Norcross Tucker Road on Monday afternoon. Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

Residents in the Norcross and Peachtree Corners area were thwarted by a number of coffee shops that remained closed even though the rain had slowed to a spritz.

Motorists pulled into a Starbucks drive-thru off Peachtree Parkway only to roll away decaffeinated when they saw the darkened restaurant and a message scrawled in green marker on the front door: “Power out. Will open when we get it back.”

Red “closed” lights warned would-be breakfasters away from the nearby Chick-fil-A.

And those who turned into a Panera Bread on Holcomb Bridge Road learned it would be two hours before the store, which had remained open through at least the afternoon wind gusts and heavy rain Monday, would re-open.

A line about a dozen deep waited at the Corner Bakery Cafe, one of the Peachtree Parkway eateries that did manage open.

The busy restaurant caught Charity Cameron of Decatur off guard when she stepped in the door to her regular stop.

“There’s never this many people, I think there’s probably one or two,” said Cameron, who works across the street.

Her employer does have power. 

“Unfortunately, yes. I wanted it to be off,” she joked.

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