By Kim West
Crews from Athens Utilities and 12 other utility companies continue to work 16-hour shifts daily, repairing main lines and restoring fallen utility poles damaged by the EF3 twisters that blasted through the county April 28.
Athens utility spokeswoman Amy Golden said Monday afternoon less than 1,500 customers remained without power, down from a peak of 16,000 outages the night of the tornadoes.
She said the storm took down 200 main-line poles, causing widespread outages especially in areas near U.S. 72 West.
“It’s really progressing at a phenomenal pace — we’re down to about 1,400 and we’ve reached a point in the restoration where the (pace has slowed),” Golden said. “Our crews are having to re-establish main lines on 72 that feed out to our smaller lines, and this takes times.”
With the influx of workers from other utilities, she said AU has been able to double its manpower.
“In a situation like this, it’s an all-hands effort and we’re so grateful these other utility companies have joined us,” Golden said. “The crews are setting poles and restoring lines, working really hard to get everybody back online. And the community has been fabulous about watching out for the workers and sharing whatever they have with them.”
Blue Springs Elementary School and Clements High School remained without power for the seventh straight day Monday, as school officials maintained classes will not resume at either campus until both sites are reconnected.
Dr. Tom Sisk, superintendent of Limestone County Schools, said Monday the schools will resume within 48 hours of power restoration.
“We’ve been told we may get some power in the middle of the week, and we’ll reopen within 48 hours,” he said. “My new heroes are these power men who have just worked miracles.”