As storm exits, power outages can be matter of life or death

Around 219,000 Georgians are still without power. For some of them, it's a matter of life and death.

CBS News found a grandmother who was living off a ventilator that shut off when her power went out yesterday. None of her relatives could reach her because of the snow and ice.

Lt. Dennis Moore of the Union City Fire Department got the emergency call. He drove 6 miles over icy roads to get there with two tanks of oxygen.

Eugenia Garrett, 81, needed that lifeline. She had 90 minutes of reserve oxygen left. Robert Garrett, her husband of 

Eugenia Garrett, 81, had about 90 minutes of reserve oxygen left wihen help arrived. CBS News
  65 years, was desperate.

"She wouldn't be alive without it. She depends on it," he said.

Atlanta was a wintry ghost town for a third day on Thursday. Afternoon temperatures in the low 40s melted much of the snow, ice and anxiety.

Emergency officials got worried that everyone would head outside at once.

"Let us do our job working on the roads. You do your job being a good motorist, going slow, giving our crews the room they need to work. Or stay home if you can," said Natalie Dale of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

 But Willie and Cheryl Sallee couldn't take it at home anymore.

"This morning when I woke up I could see my breath when I put my head out of the covers," said Willie Sallee.

They've been without power since daybreak Wednesday.

"We're going to head to a hotel," said Cheryk Sallee.

"We’re done," said Willie Sallee. "We can't go no further."

On Thursday night, the Garretts were still without power, but Moore said he would deliver as much oxygen as Eugenia Garrett needs.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.