Joe Nedza, owner of Nedza’s, came into work on Thursday morning at 6:15 a.m. to start making doughnuts. When the wind picked up, the windows started shaking, and then the building itself. After moving away from the windows, Nedza saw a flash of white light in the middle of Five Points. The power went out after, and didn’t return until 11:30 a.m.
Tropical Storm Zeta moved through Athens early Thursday morning with wind speeds up to 50 miles per hour. Sweetie Pie by Savie also experienced power outages, and University of Georgia student Priyanka Shah’s car window was smashed from a branch.
“I was like, I need to get away from these windows. So I went away, kept working again, then I saw this big, white explosion-looking thing and then all the power went out, and I was like oh boy. That is a little terrifying,” Nedza said.
The restaurant had ice cream and chicken that had to be kept cold. Nedza said he worried that his ice cream would melt and he would have to throw away all of the chicken if it reached a temperature above 42 degrees for too long. However, Nedza said both items were fine.
During Nedza’s power outage from about 6:45-11:30 a.m., the restaurant remained closed. Once the power came back on, business resumed, Nedza said. However, without a mixer and oven during the power outage, he couldn’t pre-make anything, and was stressed when customers came in.
“It was weird, I thought, you know, we’re a breakfast, brunch and dessert place, so I thought, man, we don’t have power, so our day’s gonna be shot. But when we opened back up we got hit pretty good. We got busy,” Nedza said.
Sweetie Pie couldn’t serve its customers when they lost their power Thursday morning. Jordan Johnson, a barista at Sweetie Pie, said they lost power from 6-9 a.m. and remained closed the whole day, since their normal hours are until 12:30 p.m.
“We got the power back on at 9, it would be tough to open up and get anybody in, so we were just closed the whole day,” Johnson said.
To protect frozen items, Johnson said he loaded the items into his car and took them to the owner Savie Arnold’s house. He came back in the afternoon, the power was back on and he moved the frozen items back into the freezers, Johnson said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, Sweetie Pie has an online ordering system. Customers were ordering from the system, which automatically turns on at 7 a.m., when the cafe opens, Johnson said. They had to call some customers and let them know that they couldn’t make their scone, croissant or coffee, but no big orders like wedding cakes were affected, Johnson said.
For Shah, a senior management information systems and international business major from Cumming, pandemic complications kept her from going to work and class since her parents prevented her from using Uber or Lyft due to COVID-19 concerns.
Zeta’s winds caused a branch to fall off a tree by Shah’s house on Milledge Avenue and smash through her back windshield around 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
Costs to repair her windshield can be as high as $836, depending on where her car was made and the type of glass it has, Shah said.
Since her car is now in the dealership getting fixed and she can’t take Uber or Lyft, Shah said her friends have to drive her to class and work. She attended class via Zoom and called her work to tell them she couldn’t come in on Thursday and Friday, she said.
Nedza said on Friday that business resumed as usual, and Georgia Power said in a press release that power has been restored to 97% of customers affected by Tropical Storm Zeta as of Sunday night.