Post-storm cleanup underway

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Mop-up continued Monday following the season's first substantial snowstorm, as icy roads and fallen branches were cleared and power lines and burst water pipes repaired.

The frigid weather is expected to continue at least one more day.

According to the National Weather Service, a hard freeze warning is in effect through 8 a.m. Wednesday, and lows are projected below freezing in both Sonora and Angels Camp overnight tonight.

The freeze follows the weekend's snowstorm that dropped snow as low as 700 feet and above in the Mother Lode. Snow and ice still blanket areas stretching from the high country down to Jamestown.

The freezing temperatures have taken a toll on plumbing as freezing water expands and bursts the pipes.

Such happened at the Tuolumne Branch Library, which will be closed through Jan. 2 because of a broken water pipe. The Tuolumne Youth Center will also be closed through Friday.

"Many people, homeowners that are part-time homeowners, were caught unprepared," said Mitch Dion, general manager for the Calaveras County Water District. "Things stay frozen, and maybe they have not discovered their leaks yet."

Tuolumne Utilities District General Manager Tom Scesa said Monday the district had fielded more than two dozen calls since Sunday about frozen pipes.

"It's just basic preventative work that needs to be done," Scesa said. "In general, if they would insulate their pipes, most of this would be prevented."

Scesa added that TUD crews walked the district's water-delivery ditches during and after the storm to make sure snow, ice and fallen branches weren't obstructing the system.

He said TUD will continue to run more water than typical through the ditches to prevent freezing, which would cause major service problems.

"In general, the ditches did well," he said.

PG&E saw some problems from the snow within its system in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.

About 6,500 customers in Tuolumne County and 3,000 customers in Calaveras County lost power at the height of the weekend storm. The outages were scattered around more than 110 locations, with most of them in Sonora, Jamestown, Columbia, Angels Camp, Murphys and Sutter Creek.

Most power was restored by Saturday, and no outages were reported by Monday morning.

PG&E spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said low-elevation snow "packed quite a punch" in terms of the electrical lines, bringing down limbs and causing access issues for repair crews in some cases. Liebelt said the utility company has an ongoing program to trim back or remove trees around power lines.

"Our crews worked around the clock to restore each and every customer affected," she said.

11910841
The Union Democrat
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