08/29/11 — Trees, power main problems around Wayne

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Trees, power main problems around Wayne

By Staff Reports
Published in News on August 29, 2011 1:46 PM

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Utility crews were among those trying to make repairs and clean up Sunday after Hurricane Irene.

It will be Tuesday before county officials expect to have damage totals left in the wake of Hurricane Irene, which appeared to have hammered central Goldsboro and northeastern Wayne County the hardest.

One total they do have is the $180,000 that it will cost to replace the roof on the Jeffreys Building on John Street that Irene tore off. Other county buildings, including the courthouse, had some water damage as well.

One person, a 15-year-old girl, died in a traffic accident at an intersection where traffic lights were not working because of the power outage.

Most of the damage across the county consisted of downed trees and power lines.

Wayne County Public Schools, Mount Olive College and the Wayne County Public Library were closed today, but Wayne County government offices operated on their normal schedules. GATEWAY began operations an hour late this morning at 7 a.m.

Countywide, more than 12,000 people remained without power this morning.

The lack of power at several county schools as well as storm debris prompted school officials to cancel classes for today. A decision for Tuesday's classes is expected this afternoon.

Public Works Director Neil Bartlett said there were four to five work crews out in the city beginning at 7 a.m. as city workers continued to try to clear the streets.

"Certainly by the end of the day all the streets should be cleared," Bartlett said, adding that as far as power outages were concerned, that was up to Progress Energy. The city doesn't maintain electricity connections for residents.

He said his crews were focused, today, on making the streets in the city passable and that their concentration would then shift to removing debris.

"We're already starting some (debris removal) and we'll hit it full-force tomorrow," he said. "I estimate it will take about three to four weeks to get everything removed, but that's just an estimate."

County residents will be able to dispose of storm debris at the county landfill free of charge for at least the next two weeks, County Manager Lee Smith said. That free disposal of storm debris could be extended, he said.

The county's Department of Social Services was packed with people Monday morning seeking assistance, and Smith said he sent deputies over to assist with crowd control.

The county has received numerous telephone calls about assistance and help from FEMA, Smith said. The county is in the process of compiling the damages and dollar amounts to be sent to the governor's office.

It will be later in the week before the county will know what kind of assistance will be available, he said.

Mount Olive College sustained minimal damage. Some buildings had water damage and a tree fell on Laughinghouse Hall, puncturing a hole in the roof over a studio. Luckily, the tree fell late in the storm after most of the rain had fallen, so there was little water or structural damage, college officials said.

There was also roof damage on the college's Station Street House, a residence house on the south side of campus.

The college is expected to be back to full operation tonight for evening college and starting tomorrow for traditional students.

There were 180 resident students remained on campus through the storm.

The college is currently accessing conditions and damages at is six other locations.

As of 8 a.m. today Progress Energy reported almost 11,000 customers without power, spread throughout county from Nahunta, Fremont and Pikeville to Goldsboro (with the biggest cluster at nearly 4,000), to Rosewood to Mar-Mac to Mount Olive.

Progress Energy is estimating most areas will have power restored by midnight Wednesday, with the rest back in business by Thursday. In Wayne County, there appears to be a cluster of about 100 customers in the Rosewood area who might not get power back until Thursday. The rest will likely be on by Wednesday.

Across the state, more than 451,000 customers lost power for varying periods. In Wayne County, more than 27,000 customers were without power at one time or another.

Some Tri-County Electric Membership Cooperative customers were also still without power today.

General manager Mike Davis said at the storm's height, about 20,000 customers in Wayne, Duplin and Lenoir counties were without power. Now, though, only about 1,500 customers remain in the dark, and those, he said, are scattered throughout the company's coverage area.

"We're hoping by the end of today or first thing tomorrow," he said. "They're going to be working extremely hard today to get them all back on."

Up in the northern end of the county, Fremont and Pikeville, ElectriCities employees were working this morning to get power back on.

In Pikeville, Mayor Johnny Weaver estimated about 50 people were still without power as of about 9:30 a.m., due to a tree that had fallen on a main line near Charles B. Aycock High School.

Originally, he said, officials had contacted Progress Energy about getting the line repaired, but Weaver said Fremont officials had volunteered their assistance.

"Fremont offered to help us, and they're down there helping us right now," he said this morning.