Outages drop, but many in area still without power

The number of homes and businesses without electricity in the Athens area continued to drop Wednesday afternoon, according to figures provided by Georgia Power Co. and area Electric Member Co-ops.

 

Thousands were left without power Monday when the remnants of Hurricane Irma tore through the state with high winds and rain.

Georgia Power is reporting that about 340,000 remained without power statewide as of Wednesday afternoon with about 1,900 outages remaining in Athens-Clarke County.

Jackson EMC reported about 18,000 outages in its 10-county area,with 339 outages in Clarke County, 2,609 in Jackson County, 200 in Madison County and 1,322 in Barrow County. The majority of outages are in Hall County, Jackson EMC Director of Communications April Sorrow said.

Walton EMC, with customers in 10 counties, was down to about 5,000 outages, said Walton spokesman Gregg Brooks. At the height of the storm there were 48,000 outages, he said. Of remaining outages there are 418 in Oconee County and 106 in Athens-Clarke County as of Wednesday afternoon.

Those still without power are becoming anxious.

James Thomas, 63, lives in the Forest Heights neighborhood of Athens and was still without power as of noon Wednesday.

“I’m hoping it will be back today,” he said. “It’s starting to get pretty hot, and I think my food will go bad if it’s not back soon.”

Brian Hitselberger, also a Forest Heights resident, had his power restored Tuesday night after 36 hours.

“We were starting to get concerned. We were planning on just waiting it out,” he said. “We stocked up on food for the hurricane, and it was starting to go bad. We thought we were going to have to move it to friends’ houses who had power.”

The utility companies reported that repairs and replacement of downed poles could take several days. Two people were killed in the storm. A man was crushed Monday when a tree fell on his home in Sandy Springs and a woman was killed in Forsyth County when a tree fell on her car.

The worst damage was reported along the coastal counties.

“We have had crews working around the clock, and we’ll continue working around the clock until all outages are taken care of,” Sorrow said. “We were prepared for the storm response, but there was nothing we could do to prevent the outages. Now, we’re just doing everything we can to have our members’ power restored.”

Two hundred additional crew members and contractors from neighboring utilities were helping restore power to Jackson EMC customers. Another 175 were on the way from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana to help and were expected to be in action Wednesday, Sorrow said.

Those in need of help with downed trees and power lines should call:

  • For downed trees blocking a street in Athens, call the ACC Streets and Drainage Department at (706) 613-3465 during normal business hours. After hours, call the Athens-Clarke County Police Department at (706) 546-5900.
  • For downed trees blocking a street in Oconee County, call the Oconee County Road Department at (706) 769-3912 or the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at (706) 769-3945
  • To report a power outage, downed power line or to check the status of an outage, call Georgia Power 24 hours a day at 1-888-891-0938. You can also report an outage online at georgiapower.com/storm.
  • Walton EMC customers should call (770) 267-2505 or visit waltonemc.com to report an outage or downed line.
  • Jackson EMC customers should call 1-800-245-4044 or visit outage.jacksonemc.com to report an outage or downed line.
  • The ACC Unified Government has set up a non-emergency line to call for information about the hurricane and where to seek shelter. Call (706) 613-3330 or visit athensclarkecounty.com/irma

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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