Power outages caused by Hurricane Michael are likely to linger into early this week for some of the hardest hit communities in southwest Georgia.
More than 188,000 homes and businesses still didn’t have power Friday. Crews and property owners worked to clear fallen trees and debris and repair damage to homes and businesses.
Michael, which was a Category 4 hurricane when it came ashore in Florida, entered Georgia as a Category 3 and later weakened to a tropical storm as it headed for the Carolinas. But its high winds and pounding rains left downed trees and power outages behind.
The storm also killed an 11-year-old girl who was visiting her grandparents in Seminole County in the southwest corner of the state. Sarah Radney died when winds dropped a portable carport onto her grandparents’ home and one of the legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head. Her grandmother also suffered serious injuries.
Georgia electrical workers were joined by reinforcements from other states as they worked around the clock to restore power.
Georgia Power said more than 66,000 customers were still affected by outages Friday. Georgia Electric Membership Corp., which represents the state’s electrical cooperatives, said more than 122,000 of its customers remained in the dark.
Both estimated that customers in the southwestern part of the state would likely have to wait until early this week to have power restored.
Recovering from Michael was especially difficult because numerous high-voltage transmission lines, substations, distribution lines and power poles were severely damaged, said Georgia EMC spokeswoman Terri Statham.
As an illustration, Statham said in an email, crews were slowed by thousands of downed trees and limbs and hundreds of damaged or destroyed power poles and power lines. It takes an average of four hours to replace a broken power pole, she said.
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said that damage to the state’s agricultural sector “has struck deep into the heart of our state and of our farm families.”
Black went on a flyover Friday to survey affected areas. He said poultry operations, timberlands, cotton crops and pecan orchards were among the hardest hit.
“This is a storm that will have generational consequences,” Black said.á
“Families that maybe are at a fork in the road to determine if senior members are going to continue farming or if the younger generation is going to take over” may not be able to continue on with family farms, he said. “I certainly hope not, but that’s how dramatic this is.”
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