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Snellville Crews Aid Mitchell EMC Tornado Victims

Sunday, Jan. 22, was a rough day across South and Central Georgia.

Linemen who helped restore power after Albany tornado.
Walton EMC recently sent crews to assist with restoring power after the destructive Albany, Ga., tornado. Pictured are, from left, front row, Kevin Tanner, James Wise; second row, Kevin Underwood, Gary Power, Blaine Pulliam, John Wanek, Wesley Payton, Tommy Ledford; third row, Jared Smith, Johathan Brooks, Ronnie Browning, Luke Davis and Jason Wright. Not pictured: Paul Nichols.

One of the largest tornado outbreaks on record devastated several communities, including a rare long-path tornado that traveled 71 miles at up to 1.25 miles wide.

That particular storm cut right through the heart of Mitchell EMC’s territory, just south of Albany, Ga. At the height of the outages, 25 percent of the cooperative’s accounts were dark, a huge number for a tornado. Usually, tornadoes are very localized storms and affect relatively small numbers of customers.

Walton EMC dispatched crews from its Snellville office to assist in restoring power. The first crews worked seven days at Mitchell EMC and were then relieved by new crews who worked another six days. In all, more than 250 visiting line technicians from across the state helped.

“I saw a trailer that was blown a mile and stuck up in a tree,” said Journeyman Line Technician James Wise. “It’s hard to believe something has that kind of energy. Some of the things we saw were really sad.”

“The community took good care of us,” added Journeyman Line Technician Jonathan Brooks. “We had people coming by all day long seeing if we needed food.”

Sometimes there was so much tree damage that power lines were simply relocated and built from scratch.

“Everyone came together,” said Wise. Skin color, where you were financially or things like that didn’t matter. Everyone was the same and everyone helped.”