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Cleaning up after Hurricane Michael: Here’s a look at damage around Middle Georgia

These officers take ‘protect and serve’ to a new level after Michael

James Litton, a deputy with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, talks on Thursday about how officers bring their personal chainsaws to help get trees off roads after Hurricane Michael tore through Middle Georgia.
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James Litton, a deputy with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, talks on Thursday about how officers bring their personal chainsaws to help get trees off roads after Hurricane Michael tore through Middle Georgia.

Hurricane Michael toppled trees on houses, left power lines strewn across roadways, blocking hundreds of roads in Middle Georgia overnight Wednesday.

Many in Middle and south Georgia woke up without power.

Georgia Power spokeswoman Theresa Robinson told The Telegraph that reported power outages made up a third of the total outages reported when Hurricane Irma hit the state last September. Crews were out cleaning up downed trees all over Bibb County on Thursday.

Some areas were hit harder than others.

“I’m 99 percent certain we had a tornado,” said Crawford County EMA Director Rick Sharon, who noted that the National Weather Service was on site evaluating the area Thursday.

In all, a dozen homes so far have been confirmed to have suffered damage from being destroyed to shingles being pulled off houses, Sharon said.

Initially, Michael shut down 20 roads, but all have reopened.

About 1,100 residents remained without power Thursday afternoon.

“We’re still in recovery phase and still assessing the damages throughout the county,” Sharon said.

Laurens County

Interstate 16 was blocked by down power lines and most of the county was without electricity. Laurens County schools and Dublin City schools are closed Friday due to the damage.

“This is probably pretty extensive amount of damage from this storm,” Laurens County Emergency Management Agency Director Don Bryant said. “However, for some of the winds that we got, it wasn’t a surprise to us if it had been worse.”

Interstate-16 was still being cleared about noon Thursday. Ga. 29 in East Dublin, Ga. 319 between Dublin and Wrightsville and Ga. 19 also were hit hard, Bryant said.

One business on Ga. 29 burned during the storm.

Crews from the Georgia Department of Transportation, local public works and fire departments were all working hard to reopen roads, Bryant said.

“We’ve got a lot of our roads reopen,” Bryant said. “We’ve still have a few that are going to have power lines tied up in the trees that we’re going to have to wait to let the power company catch up with us to finish clearing those out of the way.”

No major injuries were reported.

“We did have trees fall on houses but as far as having anybody trapped or pinned by it, I am not aware of that,” Bryant said. “We did have some that we had trees down that we had to get out of the way so we could get to them to check their welfare. ...I think there may have some vehicle accidents that there might have been some minor injuries in.”

The Laurens County Emergency Operations Center is on emergency power, Bryant said.

The 911 center and sheriff’s office had been on emergency power due to the storm. The center was unable to accept more than one 911 call at a time Thursday morning when E-911 services went off line, according to a Facebook post from the Laurens County E-911 center.

At the height of the storm, about 80 percent of Laurens County was without power. That number was down to 60 percent before noon Thursday, Bryant said.

“We appreciate everybody staying off the roads during the night,” Bryant. “We can kind of attribute that to possibly not having any serious injuries. We ask the folks to be patient. We do have power lines down in a lot of places. ... It’s just going to take a little while before we can get kind of get everything cleared up where folks can start moving back around good again.”

Houston County

Hurricane Michael blew through Houston County as a Category 1 storm, which has sustained winds of 74-95 mph.

About 17,000 people were without power when the storm peaked, Houston County Emergency Management Agency Director Jimmy Williams said late Thursday morning.

“We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Williams said then.

About 19 structures, mostly homes, were damaged, primarily from downed trees and power lines. There were no injuries.

“I think we were very fortunate not to have any more damage than we did,” Williams said.

The Georgia National Fair announced Thursday morning it would reopen at 4 p.m. and charge $5 for admission for everyone that day only.

Pulaski

Hurricane Michael threatened the city of Pulaski’s water distribution on top of downing trees and knocking out power to the entire county.

Without power, the water treatment plant wouldn’t be able fill tanks that supply water. Power was restored to the north plant Thursday afternoon.

“The south plant tank still had water so citizens should not have had an interruption of services, possibly just low water pressure,” the city posted on Facebook. In addition to downing trees on power lines, a few houses and vehicles were damaged, Pulaski County EMA Director Leslie Sewell said.

“We don’t have a whole lot of damage but we have enough to keep everybody busy,” he said.

Peach County

There was not “a ton of damage” to report Thursday morning in Byron after the storm.

“We don’t have a ton of damage,” Byron Police Chief Wesley Cannon said. “Of course, there were limbs and tall trees down pretty much all over town — about like anywhere else.”

A large oak tree snapped in two behind city hall, taking out a main power line that “feeds probably about a third of the town,” the chief said, adding that he expects power will be restored completely by dusk.

“We’re just waiting on that to get repaired, and then after that we’ll be packing good,” he said. “Our people have a lot of cleanup.”

Peach County EMA Director Jeff Doles said trees across roadways have been removed.

Jones County

Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece said Hurricane Michael left little damage. All roads were clear by early afternoon, but electricity was still out in some portions of the county, including the jail.

“It was not that bad,” the sheriff told The Telegraph. “We expected a little more, but we aired on the side of caution.”

Deputies took on a different role Wednesday night, bringing chainsaws to sever downed trees that blocked roads.

“We were lucky that it wasn’t any worse here,” the sheriff wrote in a Facebook post. “I don’t know what (y’all) are going to do with all that bread and milk you got, may have to share with neighbors cause I’m pretty sure the stores won’t take it back.”

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