Updated: Schools, offices, grocers close, services suspended as Hurricane Michael moves in

Powerful Hurricane Michael nears the Florida coast

Powerful Hurricane Michael nears the Florida coast with expect landfall coming close to Panama City Beach.
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Powerful Hurricane Michael nears the Florida coast with expect landfall coming close to Panama City Beach.

Bibb, Baldwin, Jones, Peach, Twiggs and Houston county school districts are on fall break, but several other institutions of education are having to decide quickly whether classes will resume Thursday as Hurricane Michael moved into Middle Georgia.

Other businesses, such as grocery stores, government offices, closed or suspended services.

Here’s a roundup of school closures:

  • About 10 p.m. Wednesday, Mercer University announced the cancellation of all Thursday classes in Macon, Savannah and Columbus and the closure of university offices in those locations. Previously, the university had canceled Wednesday classes for Macon undergraduates only, with a makeup date set for Dec. 8. Undergraduates are on fall break Thursday and Friday.
  • Central Georgia Technical College will be closed Thursday before reopening Friday.
  • Georgia College and State University suspended student activities on campus until Monday, however staff and faculty are expected to report for work.
  • Georgia Military College in Milledgeville will be closed Thursday in Augusta, Dublin, Eastman, Madison, Milledgeville, Warner Robins, Valdosta, Albany and Sandersville. The prep school also will be closed Thursday.

  • Fort Valley State University is expected to reopen Friday for normal operations.
  • Middle Georgia State University closed at noon Wednesday, and has not made a decision about plans for Thursday. The announcement included campuses in Macon, Cochran, Dublin, Eastman and Warner Robins.

  • Wesleyan College will decide by 5 a.m. Thursday about Thursday’s classes.
  • Bibb County schools announced that only essential personnel are needed at work Thursday. Friday’s football games will continue as planned.
  • Mount de Sales Academy in Macon will be closed Thursday.
  • Stratford Academy in Macon will be closed Thursday.
  • Crisp County schools will be closed Thursday.

  • Dodge County Schools will be closed Thursday for staff and students.
  • Dooly County Schools will be closed Thursday.

Government office close, stop offering services

  • The City of Warner Robins has closed all non-essential city offices through Thursday. All offices are scheduled to reopen Friday.

Macon-Bibb County government offices will be closed Thursday.

Macon bus service is suspended and expected to return to regular schedule Friday morning, said Craig Ross, president of the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority.

Macon Water Authority offices will be closed until late morning Thursday. Also MWA will not be dispatching service calls during the storm, according to a news release. Customer service personnel and field technicians will resume services Thursday after the threat of severe weather has passed. Authority officials hope all customer services will resume by 11:00 a.m. Thursday.

A curfew for Milledgeville and Baldwin County has been issued until further notice. Only emergency personnel should be on roadways. Government offices will be closed Thursday. An announcement is expected when offices reopen.

Cochran also established a curfew until 8 p.m. Thursday.

Robins Air Force Base shut down after Wednesday’s day shift according to its Facebook page: By direction of the Installation Commander, and it will not reopen until noon Thursday. Day shift for Thursday should not report for duty. Normal operating procedures are expected for Swing and Owl shifts on Thursday

The Georgia Department of Labor closed multiple offices across the state, including those in Macon, Houston County, Milledgeville, Dublin and Eastman.

Hospitals, other agencies suspend services, cancel events, close

For the safety of patients and staff, elective surgeries and outpatient procedures will be postponed and not conducted Thursday at Coliseum Medical Centers, Coliseum Northside Hospital and Fairview Park Hospital, Coliseum Health System announced. Its physician practices also will be closed Thursday.

NewTown Macon’s Tour of Progress and Partners in Progress Awards has been rescheduled for Nov. 8.

Macon Mayhem: The exhibition game scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday against the Fayetteville Marksmen has been canceled.

Advance Disposal for Bibb and Houston counties will not pick up trash Thursday and advises customers to not place containers on the curb for pickup so the containers will not be blown around and create a potential hazard in the event of high winds.

Publix grocery stores closed at 8 p.m. Wednesday four midstate stores, including those on Ga. Hwy. 96 in Kathleen, Perry Parkway in Perry, Watson Boulevard, Byron, and Ga. Hwy. 247, Bonaire, according to an email from Publix. The stores are expected to reopen at 7 a.m. Thursday if conditions allow.

Power, roads expected to be impacted

Flint Energies, an electric cooperative, will have all of its 230 employees plus additional crews from as far away as Arkansas ready to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

“We will have all hands on deck,” Marian McLemore, the company’s vice president of communications, told The Telegraph. “We expect a high-wind event, up to 70 mph, that will topple trees into power lines causing extended outages.”

While there is nothing in the weather forecast to predict power outages, Georgia Power media relations spokesperson Craig Bell said it is a possibility people should prepare for.

“You should be prepared to go 24-72 hours without having electricity,” Bell said.

The power company had not made any deployments as of Tuesday afternoon, but Bell said it is actively monitoring the storm.

“We’re still in the planning stages at this point,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts and we’re trying to make a determination.”

While power crews are waiting to see where they are needed, the Georgia Department of Transportation had plans to deploy early Wednesday three “strike teams,” to the southwestern part of Georgia “to support efforts to remove debris, inspect bridges and perform other necessary tasks in the anticipated aftermath of Hurricane Michael,” according to a news release from GDOT.

Construction in south Georgia was suspended Tuesday, and construction in parts of Middle Georgia was set to stop at midnight. Motorists are urged to stay off the roads.

Flint Energies plans to reopen all offices at 1 p.m. Thursday,

To check real-time power outages for Georgia Power Co., click here. To check real-time power outages for Flint Energies EMC, click here.

Georgia National Fair closed Wednesday

The Georgia National Fair closed for the day Wednesday, according to Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. It plans to reopen at 11 a.m. Thursday.

A release from the fair stated the free concert Thursday night would move to Reaves Arena.

“Public safety is our number one priority here at the Georgia National Fair, and we feel that closing for the day on Wednesday with a delayed reopen, Thursday is the safest protocol for our fairgoers, exhibitors and staff,” said Foster Rhodes, vice chairman of the Georgia Exposition Authority.

Shelters open

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert declared a state of emergency at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

At the same time, a shelter for up to 200 Hurricane Michael evacuees opened at the South Bibb Recreation Center, 7035 Houston Road. Pets belonging to evacuees were to be housed at the Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare headquarters at 4214 Fulton Mill Road.

“We want to stress the importance of preparing your families for this storm, and to shelter in place once it begins to move through our area,” Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Spencer Hawkins said in the news release. “We are anticipating similar wind speeds to what we had with Tropical Storm Irma, so people can expect power outages and fallen trees and power lines.”

The Atlanta Motor Speedway, about 60 miles north of Macon, has opened its camping facilities to Hurricane Michael evacuees. There is no charge for dry RV camping and tent campers, according to a news release. A limited number of camping spots with water, power and sewer also are available for $20 a night. For more information, visit the Atlanta Motor Speedway’s website.

Telegraph corespondent Maggie Lee, and staff writers Liz Fabian, Becky Purser, Samantha Max, Wayne Crenshaw and Tim Regan-Porter contributed to this report.