Richmond, Columbia Counties well prepared for the aftermath of Michael

Richmond, Columbia Counties well prepared for the aftermath of Michael

Areas to avoid in the CSRA

Georgia Power has announced regional estimated restoration times following Tropical Storm Michael. In a news release, the company says the Augusta service area should be completely restore by Friday, October 12 at midnight.

95,000 Georgia Power customers remain without power, and the company says it has restored service to more than 250,000 people since the storm arrived.

Locally, nearly 1,200 Georgia Power customers remain without service in Richmond County, down from 1,800 at 7 p.m.. In Columbia County, 298 customers are without power, down from 1,100 a couple of hours ago.

Please call (803) 279-2121 for fallen trees or other road blockages. Please leave 911 available for emergencies.

5AM UPDATE -Tracking Michael: Storm approaching Augusta area sooner than expected

McDuffie County Georgia Power customers have been almost completely restored, with only two small outages. 154 customers remain affected in Jefferson County, but more than 450 customers are in the dark in Burke County.

Jefferson Energy Cooperative has 1,094 customers without service, and has restored service to nearly 400 customers in the last two hours.

But the place where the real effect of the storm could be seen was Rayes Creek at old Berckmans Road and Ingleside Drive. There the waters surged beyond the bank making it impossible to tell where the creek ended and the road began.

In South Carolina, SCE&G reports nearly 4,700 customers without power, 1,019 of which are in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Cooperative reports just 13 customers without power in the Augusta area.

There were a few downed trees and there are still many without power but crews are out in force this afternoon getting things back to normal like the sun peaking through the clouds.

The American Red Cross announced it is assisting fifteen people who need assistance after their homes were damaged by Tropical Storm Michael.

By the Riverwalk the Savannah River was noticeably murky and cleanups have already begun to get the mess left behind off of one of Augustas most popular trails.

The organization says it provided financial assistance for food, clothing, lodging and comfort kits to six adults and nine children.

Some business in downtown Augusta closed up shop to weather the storm, which had wind gusts of up to 50 mph and dumped inches of rain in just a few short hours.

In Richmond County, about 1,800 customers remain without power at 7 p.m. Columbia County has just over 1,100 customers without service.

According to Georgia Power, service has been restored to nearly 234,000 customers statewide since Tropical Storm Michael arrived. As of 6:30 p.m., 104,281 customers remained without power in the Georgia Power service area, but the company has 4,800 personnel working to restore service.

Were told there was a brief surge at Raes Creek, but thankfully it did not get any higher and has receded a little since.

Jefferson Energy Cooperative data shows 1,475 customers are without power across its service area, down from as many as 9,000 earlier Thursday. 594 of those customers are in Jefferson County, 315 in Richmond County and 174 in Burke County.

Officials warn that conditions may worsen prior to Michaels arrival over the next few hours as wind gusts in Richland County are approximately 41 miles per hour with anywhere between 0.5 inches -2.5 inches of rain.

Across the river in South Carolina, SCE&G reports 7,153 customers are without power statewide, including 1,328 in Aiken County, 104 in Edgefield County and 69 in Barnwell County. Aiken Electric Cooperative says it is working to restore service for 419 customers in its service area, including 68 in Aiken County.

As of 5:15 AM, the Richland County Emergency Service Department says that Michael is approaching the Augusta area, three hours earlier than expected.

Augusta Fire Chief and EMA Director Christopher James said that Tropical Storm Michael caused no major damage other than fallen trees and power outages throughout the county.

James said schools being closed and fewer motorists on the road during the storm contributed to the rapid response by emergency officials. According to James, the Augusta Engineering department received over 50 entries regarding storm-related damage on their CityWorks system that they are currently working on or already addressed.

He said  there were as many as 15,000 people without power in Richmond County at one time, but only a few remain without power. In terms of reporting damages, James said citizens can still call 311 to report any damages caused by the storm.

, James said that all roads are pretty much cleared and doesnt know of any roads that people wont be able to travel safely. The Augusta EMA did open a shelter at the Blythe Community Center, but it was closed today after lunch. Only 14 people stayed at the shelter.

Damage assessment is still ongoing, James said. He said the amount of rain was less than the three to five inches expected.

“We did not receive the rain that we expected, so we did not get the three to five inches. I think we got more like two to three inches,” James said.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, 2,563 customers of Georgia Power were without power in Richmond County, and 1,802 were without it in Columbia County, which were both significant decreases from an hour earlier, while 1,490 in Burke County, five in McDuffie County, 185 in Lincoln County, 48 in Warren County, 417 in Jefferson County and 93 in Jenkins County.

In Aiken County, 2,584 SCE&G customers and 620 Aiken Electric Co-op customers were without power as of 5 p.m.

There were 82 SCE&G customers in Allendale County, 106 in Edgefield County and 216 in Barnwell County without power at 5 p.m., virtually unchanged from the hour before.

 Jefferson Energy Cooperative reported at 5 p.m. that 2,077 of the companys customers are without power, with 572 in Richmond, 18 in Columbia, 723 in Jefferson, 246 in Burke, 55 in McDuffie, and 37 in Warren counties.

One of the largest outages occurred 7 a.m. in the the Forest Hills area, between Walton Way and Wrightsboro Road affecting nearly 1,000 homes. More than 550 customers were without power in an area centered around Berckmans Road, also in west Augusta.

A flash flood watch for the area has been canceled but many areas saw significant rain, according to the National Weather Service Office in Columbia. While rainfall totals for many areas will not be available until Friday, Augustas Daniel Field recorded 3.29 inches over the last 24 hours, while Bush Field had 2.5 inches and Fort Gordon got 3.61 inches, and Thomson-McDuffie airport recorded 3.09, according to the weather service.

The highest wind gust recorded was 43 mph at Daniel Field at 3:53 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Columbia County government spokeswoman Cassidy Harris, at the countys Emergency Operations Center on Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans, said at 7:53 a.m. that crews from the countys Roads and Bridges and Water Utility departments have been answering calls from citizens as soon as theyve been coming in — primarily calls about downed trees and debris knocked loose by high winds. Emergency calls to this point have been minor, she said — “nothing thats been horrific, thankfully.”

Columbia County closed its Emergency Operations Center at 12:30 p.m. to calls relating to Tropical Storm Michael. For non-emergency-related issues, including downed trees blocking a road, residents can call Columbia County Dispatch at (706) 541-2800, Harris said. Calls about power outages should be directed to the customers electricity provider.

Burke County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard said at 11:30 a.m. that they had responded to at least 88 locations with trees down. Law enforcement responded to five wrecks because of the fallen trees. No fatalities and one injury was reported from the wreck, Blanchard said. Most of the roads in the county have been cleared.

Aiken County Emergency Management Director Paul Matthews said that Aiken County experienced no major damages as a result of the storm.

Matthews said that the Emergency Operations Center was staffed overnight, while they monitored the storm under Opcon 1, which is the highest level of activation. Matthews said that they had reports of trees down, power outages and very minor damages to a couple of homes with some stop lights going down throughout the morning.

Matthews said that they went down to Opcon 4 at noon and will probably go down to Opcon 5, which is day-to-day operations, at 4 p.m. Two community shelters remain open in Aiken, but Matthews expects them to be closed around 4 p.m.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office with several members of the District Attorney’s Office started working at 7 a.m. clearing debris and fallen trees from roadways in the area.

According to the sheriff’s office, around 30 officers and members of the DA’s office have been running a chainsaw team to clear road and give electrical workers space to restore power. The sheriff’s office also had deputies around the county working intersections without power.

The efforts did not affect road patrol officers from their day-to-day operations. The sheriff’s office encourages people to drive carefully, if they have to be out.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is warning residents affected by Hurricane Michael about possible scams.

Home repair fraud – Scammers often show up offering to help with tree removal and home repair work. The attorney general’s office advises consumers to do business with well-known local firms and to not give individuals money up-front based upon promises.

Imposters – Scammers might pose as representatives from an insurance company, FEMA, Small Business Association or law enforcement to try to steal money. Do not give out personal or financial information to someone you don’t know. Also, FEMA and SBA are free services.

Bogus Charities – Scammers may pose as reputable charities to solicit donations and target consumers through emails, telemarketing calls or knocking on doors. Do research before donating to any charities you are not sure about.

If you fall victim of a scam, contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 1-800-869-1123.

• A quick check of Augusta hospitals found most had no reports of storm-related injuries. AU Medical Center had a patient who was injured when a tree fell on a truck and has seen a number of traffic-related injuries over the last 36 hours, spokesman Arthur Takahashi said. University Hospital had staff who stayed in the hospital overnight in case the roads were too bad to travel or there was a sudden influx of patients but thankfully there was not, spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said. Doctors Hospital of Augusta also had staff stay overnight just in case and because schools are closed today set up childcare for about 30 children of staff so their parents could take care of patients this morning, spokeswoman Lynthia Ross said.

  •Just over a dozen residents took shelter in the Blythe Community Center on Wednesday night. Red Cross volunteer Steve Palmer, said 13 people stayed in the community center, most arriving soon after the shelter opened at 6 p.m. Palmer said some Blythe residents without vehicles were brought by Richmond County transportation services.

 •No major damage has been reported at Augusta National Golf Club, according to a club spokesman.

Photos and videos this morning show Rae’s Creek nearly overflowing its banks off the club property near Ingleside Drive. But the water that flows through Amen Corner and causes so much angst for golfers is now controlled by a dam.

On Oct. 11-12, 1990, tropical storms Marco and Klaus converged over the Augusta area and dumped nearly 15 inches of rain. Four people were killed, and the region was declared a national disaster area after the floods caused an estimated $150 million in damages to property and crops.

At Augusta National, water from Rae’s Creek destroyed the entire 11th green and the members’ tee at the 13th hole. The green and the front bunker at the 12th hole also were damaged.

The Hogan and Nelson bridges spanning Rae’s Creek weren’t damaged, but the Byron Nelson plaque at the 13th tee was torn from its footings.

In February 2014, an ice storm of historic proportions caused severe damage to the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole. The loblolly pine was removed.

The tree was named for former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a club member. He often hit his tee shot into the tree, and it was named for him.

               • The city of Augusta will resume normal work schedule on Friday

                •Aiken County Schools – Open Friday; normal hours; All after-school and athletic activity happening as scheduled

                •Columbia County schools will be open at regular times Friday

                 •Richmond County schools will resume at regular times Friday

                 •All YMCA Aiken County, Head Start Locations and Child Development Center in Richmond County normal operating hours will resume Friday.

                •Trash Collection in Augusta to be delayed one day. Thursday customers will be collected on Friday. Friday customers will be collected on Saturday.

                •All Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center clinics will reopen on Friday. This includes the main facilities as well as our 3 clinics in Aiken, Athens and Statesboro. Veterans with appointments that were cancelled for today will be contacted over the next few days to reschedule.

                • Paine College will resume normal operations at 8 a.m. Friday.

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