Decatur Dealing With “Over 100 Tree Issues” from Hurricane Irma

Here’s the latest on the power outages still plaguing Decatur, from the city…

The City of Decatur experienced over 100 tree issues during the period when Tropical Storm Irma came through on Monday.  Beginning yesterday (Tuesday) morning our priorities were to clear major transportation routes of downed trees and to work with Georgia Power to assist them in getting power on for as many residents and businesses as possible.

Today (Wednesday) our priorities are to work with Georgia Power to get power restored in areas where school facilities are located, including Westchester and Clairemont Elementary Schools and College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center.

It is possible that the area in the western part of the City along West Ponce de Leon and East and West Parkwood area will not be addressed any sooner than tomorrow.

We will continue to clear major transportation corridors and then begin moving later today to secondary streets.  It is likely that our work on streets will continue through the rest of this week.

We know that power outages are disruptive and cause major problems.  Many of our own staff do not have power at their homes in the City so we have first-hand experience with the challenges and frustrations felt by residents and businesses.  While patience is running thin, please know that we are working to get things back to normal as soon as possible.

Photo courtesy of City of Decatur – Government Facebook page

18 thoughts on “Decatur Dealing With “Over 100 Tree Issues” from Hurricane Irma”

  1. A question, in all seriousness – why hasn’t Decatur worked to have more power lines buried? Even in the recent streetscape work, all of the power lines have remained aboveground. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it seems like the combination of lots of trees and aboveground power lines is suboptimal. Yes, burying lines may cost money up front, but it’s likely cheaper over time as compared to all of the reconstruction work that is going on now.

    1. I was wondering how long that question would take. Short answer – it costs roughly $1M per mile to bury lines, not including the disruptions associated with digging. And, if a line at your property is buried, then the service entrance to your property must also be buried – at your expense.

      1. What do you think the storm response will cost (and the present day value of future storm responses), not just in cash outlays for Georgia Power, but accidents, deaths, fire and lost productivity? Not saying that everywhere should have buried power lines (makes no sense in rural areas), but Decatur certainly has the density to make it a more cost-effective proposition.

          1. I think the Public Service Commission is actually pictured next to the definition of “regulatory capture” in the dictionary.

      1. Fully agree – but would not mind someone sitting down and crunching some numbers on all of this. Significant power disruption is an externality that likely is not factored in a power company’s calculations, but it is exactly why government exists – to look after long-term interests as opposed to short-term profits or lower rates.

        1. “but it is exactly why government exists – to look after long-term interests as opposed to short-term profits or lower rates.”
          Georgia Public Service Commission. You just described their function, supposedly.

          1. I imagine this is something the city could at least dig into (pun somewhat intended). They may not have any authority to require Georgia Power to do anything, but if we can get CSX to redo railroad crossing (even after a decade of work), I don’t think that power lines are too much more of a mountain to climb.

            1. The rail crossings were not done by CSX. They didn’t pay a dime.
              The City has no influence over Georgia Power either.

        2. You don’t want to see the numbers. It’s ridiculous. Dealing with this in another area. GP sets the terms and the price. $1M per mile is way low.

    2. I wish they buried the utilities during the McDonough streetscape project. Seems cost would have been minimal given the amount of digging already needed for the project.

    3. Glad you brought it up – i was thinking the same thing this morning.

      I did some analysis of this in my consulting days 15+ years ago, and was able to prove that buried utilities makes good economic sense on greenfield development. For existing development, it is difficult to make the case. It’s a huge capital outlay to reduce risk from rare events (like Irma) and beautify our streetscapes. The additional issue is that it is not just about GA power – AT&T and Comcast also use those poles to run their infrastructure. This is the other reason this only gets done on new development.

      The city could require buried lines for commercial development that changes the streetscape, but that doesn’t solve the real problem that is primarily in existing residential neighborhoods.

  2. …& any trees left over from that, the developers will be sure to cut down…

    Thinking Georgia Power will do the right thing… Ha!

    What a disgrace!

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