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Residents grapple with power surge
Georgia Power crews assessing damage after too much voltage goes through the lines
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Georgia Power crews are combing through a subdivision after several residents reported problems Monday morning.

Kate’s Cove subdivision was one of the areas scheduled to undergo a planned outage Monday morning as Georgia Power continued its plan to upgrade power distribution through parts of Rincon. But something happened during the outage and homes in Kate’s Cove got more voltage through their lines than they should have, Georgia Power’s Stan Sparks said.

A contractor for the utility was working that section when houses in the subdivision were energized at a level higher than they should have been, he said.

Meanwhile, homeowners began to take assessment of any appliances or other devices that may have been damaged when the power surged through their lines. Power was initially cut off around 9 a.m., and it came back about two hours later, homeowner Mona Underwood said.

“My alarm was just screaming. I couldn’t get it to shut off,” she said. “Then I heard something pop. I still didn’t think it was anything serious.”

Underwood said her home alarm then shut down and she heard another pop. She went to check her breakers and they were all on.

“I keep hearing popping and I heard my garage door open,” she said.

Smoke started billowing out of her garage door opener, Underwood said, prompting her to call 911. The 911 dispatcher told her that units were on their way and a fire truck raced past her house, telling her they’d come back to her in a minute as other homeowners called in with reports of smoke in their house.

Underwood said her neighbor across the street reported his light bulbs exploded. The power was cut off again and has remained off since.

“I’m fairly certain my alarm system is fried,” she said. “So is my garage door opener, my refrigerator and my microwave.”

A sheriff’s deputy told her that many garage door openers in the neighborhood were reported to have been damaged by the surge, she said.

Her refrigerator was stocked after she had gone grocery shopping this weekend and her freezer was full, too, she said.

Georgia Power has teamed with crews from Effingham County’s building inspections department and they will be conducting house-to-house inquiries on any damages, Sparks said.

Underwood praised Georgia Power’s response to the situation.

“Georgia Power was right out here. They’ve been very attentive,” she said. “They’ve been out here from the start. They’ve been very accommodating and very nice.”

Underwood said a Georgia Power representative told her and the other residents that the problem was the company’s fault and they will assume responsibility. Because the power may be off for at least an evening, residents who wanted to spend the night in a hotel would get reimbursed, according to Underwood.

“He said, ‘Keep your receipts. Keep up with everything. Itemize everything,’” she recalled of what the Georgia Power representative advised her.

“They’ve done everything they could do to try to alleviate the situation. I’ve been impressed with how they jumped on this. They’ve been real nice. They’ve been real helpful.”

Georgia Power is setting up a claims number so residents can call in with their damages.

“We’re making personal contacts with each customer,” Sparks said. “Our engineers and personnel are calling each customer and letting them know.”

Underwood said the neighborhood has been plagued with outages before, and Georgia Power’s planned outages have been designed to allow for a more reliable delivery of electricity.

Sparks said each house in the subdivision, estimated to be 53, will be re-energized one at a time to make sure there is no further damage.

He said he did not know if the planned outages for the remainder of Monday were going to be carried out as planned.