Severe storms knock down trees, power lines across midstate

Staff reportsMarch 18, 2013 

A severe thunderstorm whipped through Middle Georgia on Monday night, knocking down trees and power lines and triggering widespread power outages.

Jones County looked like it was one of the hardest hit areas.

“We’ve got power lines down all over. ... Trees down on houses, trees down on cars,” a dispatcher with the Sheriff’s Office said about 9 p.m.

In Bibb County, authorities reported trees, limbs or power lines down in the Red Oak Drive area of north Macon, Upper River Road, Nottingham and Twin Pines drives in the Shirley Hills neighborhood, Rivoli Road, Forest Hill Road, Interstate 475 near the Thomaston Road exit, Glen Echo Drive, roads along U.S. 80, Liberty Church Road in south Bibb, Lokchapee Ridge, Comanche Drive, and Allen Road. Trees also fell in the Lake Wildwood area of Bibb County, where many residents lost power.

Trees were down and power was out along Zebulon Road.

The traffic light at the Chick-fil-A on Zebulon Road was gone, according to a motorist. Trees were also at least partly blocking the Mercer University Drive exit at southbound Interstate 475, and several cars were lined up at the exit.

“About 26,000 (customers) are without power in the central Georgia area,” Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright said about 8 p.m.

“About 14,000 are in the Macon area. Those numbers will continue (to increase) throughout the night. Some trees that aren’t down yet may go down later.”

About 11,000 customers were without power in Milledgeville, about 500 in Hawkinsville and 500 in Dublin.

About 8:30 p.m., Flint Energies in the Warner Robins area reported more than 2,800 customers did not have power.

Wind gusts hit 70 mph or greater as the storm passed through the area, according to the National Weather Service. Hail the size of golf balls -- or bigger -- was reported.

Work crews in Crawford County were already out cleaning up damage before 9 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office reported. Power lines were down across the county, and there were trees blocking roads. No injuries had been reported.

The Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office also reported trees down across the county -- but none on houses that the department was aware of.

Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Don Druitt said calls started to come in about 7 p.m. from all over the city and county.

No injuries had been reported as of 9:30 p.m., he said.

Druitt said crews from Georgia Power, as well as Macon police, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department were trying to keep the roads clear.

Houston County EMA Director Jimmy Williams reported a few downed trees in addition to the power outages but noted that about 8:45 p.m. there was nothing major or significant. Roads are clear, according to Houston County 911.

Druitt advised people to stay indoors and to stay far away from power lines. If residents see a downed power line, Druitt said they should call 911, and the information will be routed to the EMA.

In Macon, EMA volunteers were out with crews, including Georgia Power Co. workers, to help with traffic control.

Staff writers Linda S. Morris and Oby Brown contributed to this report.

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