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Most of Cairo was without power Monday

As Subtropical Storm Alberto was making landfall on the Florida Panhandle Monday, electric crews in Cairo were working to remedy a pair of unusual circumstances that left about two-thirds of the city without power, some for nearly six hours.
Every utility lineman, apprentice and groundman for the city was called to duty, according to Rod Prince, energy services director for the City of Cairo, but the unfolding situation proved time consuming.
“We had a unique situation last night,” Prince said Tuesday. “Distribution was out on one circuit that we use for tying to another station, then we had lost a whole station on the other end. It’s my first time seeing that in 33 years.”
Around 4:15 p.m. Memorial Day, a large pine tree on South Broad Street fell, breaking not only a utility pole, but also a cross arm on top of another pole and slinging the wires to ground, Prince explained. The downed tree meant all of Southeast Cairo would be without power until repairs could be made.
Minutes later, a large oak tree near Hwy. 188, came crashing down onto two phases of a Georgia Power transmission line, Prince said. The downed line knocked out all power to a utility substation near Koyo. In addition to the city’s largest customer, Koyo, losing electricity, so did the Northeast section of town, including much of U.S. 84 and the Industrial Park area.
Although city crews were able to begin work immediately on South Broad removing the broken pole, installing a replacement pole, repairing the damaged cross arm and restringing wires, it still took until about 9:30 p.m. before those affected customers began to get power back, Prince said.
Local crews could not get started on rectifying the second situation until a Georgia Power team arrived to install grounds at the site of the downed tree and also at the substation. Only then would Georgia Power issue a clearance to allow city workers to cut and remove the oak and begin repairs, Prince said.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton reported at the city council meeting Tuesday, “It took awhile to get Georgia Power here, but our crews did an admirable job.”
Power was restored by 10 p.m. for customers served by that substation.
“All this stuff takes time, and it’s just a very rare occasion that we have two situations like this,” Prince said.
Addleton reported that Rick Kines, electric supervisor for the City of Cairo, was injured Monday by a falling limb, but was at work Tuesday.
Prince said during the outages, the call center received 1,424 telephone calls from customers.
He warned that the ground is saturated with rainwater allowing trees to topple more easily than usual, and customers should be cautious.

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