A blast of sleet, snow and freezing rain all but shut down Middle Georgia on Monday, leaving a soggy mess that was expected to refreeze and make roads perilous again Tuesday.
And Tuesday looks to be at least a partial repeat of Monday, with a rash of school closings and late government openings rippling across Middle Georgia. Most area school systems will be closed Tuesday, including Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jones, Laurens, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs county public schools. Governments, including those in Bibb and Houston counties, planned to open late.
“With freezing temperatures anticipated and the slush and water still on the roadways, we felt in the interest of public safety a delayed opening would provide a safer commute for our employees in the morning,” Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said in a statement. Patchy spots of drizzly rain were expected into the night Monday.
Most people Monday seemed to heed calls from public safety officials to stay home. That limited the number of people on the streets, and the number and severity of auto accidents.
Macon Police Chief Mike Burns and Bibb County Chief Deputy David Davis said they had extra patrols working late Sunday night and early Monday morning, but they expected things to be more routine Tuesday. Davis said many of the plainclothes personnel would be helping with traffic patrols Tuesday.
Macon-Bibb County EMA Deputy Director Mark Wynn said road and sidewalk conditions could be even worse Tuesday, because any water on the ground was expected to freeze again Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Wynn said public works crews would continue to clear roads over bridges and overpasses, then hit the roads that law enforcement personnel report as treacherous.
Sylvia McGee, Bibb County’s interim school superintendent, said the decision to close schools Tuesday was because of expected poor road conditions.
“We hope by Wednesday we’ll be able to resume school,” she said. “These are precautionary measures.”
Monday, some people had to get to work, and they often needed a hand.
Baldwin County deputies picked up nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists and other workers at Oconee Regional Medical Center and drove them to work.
Monroe County deputies used four-wheel-drive vehicles to pull motorists out of ditches instead of waiting for a tow truck, sheriff’s Lt. Brad Freeman said.
The weather gave many adults and kids a chance to play.
In Dublin, youngsters navigated a steep hill on the campus of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, with several taking spills as they sledded downhill. In Macon’s Washington Park and Coleman Hill, the tools of the trade included skis without poles and a surfboard without a fin. But with an uneven but generally thin covering of snow across the region, few kids built snowmen.
Ice built up on trees, felling branches that crashed into power lines. Don Bryant, director of the Dublin-Laurens County Emergency Management Agency, said he’d had reports of scattered outages across the area that added complications.
“We’ve got a lot of folks that are concerned,” he said.
Slick roads also caused car accidents. Bryant said accidents included an 18-wheeler that overturned Monday morning on Interstate 16 near the Ga. 257 exit.
“A lot of them were cars that had slipped off the road a little bit and needed some traction,” he said.
The Georgia State Patrol responded to 51 crashes in Middle Georgia between 8 p.m. Sunday and mid-afternoon Monday. Nineteen people were injured, and no fatalities were reported. Most of the crashes were caused by vehicles sliding off roads or striking a median wall, officials said.A Bibb County deputy spun off Ga. 247 but was able to get his car back onto the road.
Houston County declared all roads unpassable.
“We’re not going to roll the dice on this one saying this road is open here and this road is closed there,” said Houston County Sheriff’s Capt. Ricky Harlowe, director of the E-911 center. “We’re encouraging everyone to stay off the roadways.”
LaTravius Smith, emergency services director for the Red Cross of Central Georgia, said the organization didn’t open any emergency shelters Monday because the roads were hazardous. No partners, such as police departments in 22 counties, asked for shelters.
“The shelter workers would be placed in extreme danger because of the road conditions,” she said.
The Red Cross told residents who’d lost power to bundle up, because it would have been more dangerous to get to a shelter.
Other electrical outages included about 800 people in Gray who lost power when a tree broke a Tri-County EMC power line. In Central Georgia EMC’s region, a peak of 253 customers were without power, but more outages were expected as ice built up Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Three crews from Kentucky and one from Florida were helping, said Central Georgia EMC spokesman Rodney Christopher.
Audrey King, spokeswoman for Georgia Power, said there were fewer than 50 outages in Bibb County.
Government services were limited. Macon and Bibb County governments planned to open late Monday, but wound up being closed the entire day. Macon Transit Authority buses and the city’s garbage trucks were not running, said Glenn Pope, operations officer at Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management.
Macon and Bibb County workers have been told to report at 11 a.m. Tuesday, officials said. The Bibb County Superior Court and State Court will open at 1 p.m., and officials said jurors are expected to report at that time.
Area hospitals rescheduled non-critical services. The Medical Center of Central Georgia had late openings for its urgent care centers and its wellness center, while pediatric and gynecological offices were closed the whole day.
Both Coliseum Health System hospitals kept operating rooms, emergency rooms and patient care fully staffed, but some patients called to cancel nonessential procedures, hospital spokeswoman Jan Beeland said. Staff at the two hospitals volunteered to stay at work Monday night.
Telegraph writers Jim Gaines, Ryan Gilchrest, Rodney Manley, Becky Purser, Phillip Ramati, Mike Stucka and Amy Leigh Womack contributed to this report.
American Professional Institute campuses in Macon, Warner Robins and Milledgeville will be closed Tuesday. Staff and faculty should report at noon.
Bleckley County; but workers should report at 10 a.m., except for bus drivers
Brentwood Shool in Sandersville
Byron Christian Academy
Central Fellowship Christian Academy
Dublin city schools
First Presbyterian Day School
The Gatewood School in Eatonton
John Hancock Academy, Sparta
Laurens County; staff should report at noon
Montessori of Macon
Mount de Sales Academy
Piedmont Academy, Monticello
Sacred Heart Catholic School
Sinclair Christian Academy, Milledgeville
Twiggs Academy, Jeffersonville
The Westfield School
Westside Baptist Academy, Warner Robins
Windsor Academy, Macon
Central Georgia Technical College; employees should report by 10 a.m. or as conditions allowGMC Junior College, Milledgeville
Heart of Georgia Technical College, all campuses
The Wellness Center and Macon Health ClubAmerican Red Cross blood donation center in Macon
TUESDAY DELAYED OPENINGS
Fort Valley State University will open at 11 a.m.
Macon State College campuses in Macon and Warner Robins will open at noon.
Mercer University: All classes that begin at 10:50 a.m. and after will be held as scheduled.
Middle Georgia College (Cochran and Dublin): Employees should report at 10 a.m. Orientation and registration on the Cochran campus will be rescheduled to start at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Orientation and registration on the Eastman campus will start at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Students should return to the residence halls after 10 a.m. Tuesday. Classes begin Wednesday.
On-campus classes at Brewton-Parker College will resume Tuesday as scheduled.Wesleyan College will open at 11 a.m.
Atlantic Southern Bank branches will open at noon Tuesday.
Blue Bird Corp. announced that there would be no production until Wednesday. Office personnel are to report at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Cox Communications will suspend normal operations until 1 p.m. Tuesday. The company will be in touch with customers to reschedule service appointments.
Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter will open at noon Tuesday.
The following offices associated with The Medical Center of Central Georgia will be closed until noon Tuesday: HOPE Center; Family Health Center; Anderson Health Center; Crescent House; Children’s Health Center; Georgia Orthopeadic Traumatology Institute; Surgical Associates; Pediatric Surgery; office of Stefan Adair; Clear Med Spa; Middle Georgia Ophthalmology office of Dr. Moya Brooks; Central Georgia GYN Oncology; GYN Associates; Pediatric GI Center; Georgia Gastroenterology Center; Central Georgia Fertility Institute; Pediatric Endocrinology; North, East and Northwest Urgent Care Centers; Central Georgia Breast Care Center; and Central Georgia Diagnostics, Hardeman and Northwest.
Robins Federal Credit Union branches will open at 11 a.m., except for the Robins AFB branch which will open at noon.
Robins Air Force Base operations will resume at noon Tuesday.
Jurors for Bibb County Superior and State courts should report for duty at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
City of Byron: City Hall is closed until 2 p.m.
Jones County government offices will open at 11 a.m.
Crawford County government offices will open at noon.
Houston County, Warner Robins, Perry and Centerville government offices will reopen at noon (essential personnel should report at normal duty hours, other should report by noon).
Houston County grand jury members report at 1 p.m. Tuesday to the Houston County Courthouse, which reopens at 1 p.m.
Houston County Superior Court jurors originally scheduled for Monday should report for duty at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.
City of Macon and Bibb County employees should report at 11 a.m., except for emergency service employees, who should report as normal.
Peach County offices will reopen at noon. Public safety and public works employees should report at normal times.
Peach County Superior Court jurors should report at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Court employees should report at 8 a.m. Tuesday