Tropical Storm Michael hits Augusta hard

Tropical Storm Michael hits Augusta hard

Tropical Storm Michael updates and closings

Scattered power outages are impacting Richmond and Columbia counties as Tropical Storm Michael pushes through the Augusta area.

At 7:15 a.m. Thursday, 6,900 customers of Georgia Power were without power in Richmond County, and 4,050 were without it in Columbia County, 3,150 in Burke County, 200 in McDuffie County, 130 in Warren County, 680 in Glascock County and 2,130 in Jefferson 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.

In Aiken County, more than 8,900 SCE&G customers and 1,100 Aiken Electric Co-op customers were without power as of 5:25 a.m.

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

At 7 a.m., Jefferson Electric Cooperative spokesman Steve Chalker reported 8,435 of the companys customers are without power.

At 5 a.m., there were wind gusts of up to 40 mph in Augusta and Aiken. The storm, weakened to a Tropical Storm with winds of 50 mph, was moving to the northeast at 21 mph and was located 45 miles west of Augusta.  But its still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, winds and a threat of spinoff tornadoes.

•*UPDATE* I-20 eastbound is back open, for now. I-20 eastbound between 2 and 3 mile marker both lanes are blocked

Authorities say at least one person died, a man hit by a falling tree on a Panhandle home, following the Category 4 hurricane that came ashore. An 11-year-old was reported killed in Seminole County, Ga.

Mayor Hardie Davis and Augusta Fire Chief and EMA Director Christopher James held a briefing Wednesday at the Municipal Building to update on the potential impacts from Hurricane Michael in the area.

“As our EMA director has continued to track to storm, we find ourselves right in the middle of the eye of the storm,” Davis said. “We want to make sure that we are coordinated with all of our citizens, making sure they are taking every precaution, not just from a travel perspective, but sheltering in place.”

James said that the biggest concerns right now are flooding rains, high winds and possible tornadoes that are following the hurricane. Dangerous high winds can cause trees to fall and power outages in the area, James said.

James recommends people to have at least three days of food and medication. James encourages citizens to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly.

A shelter was opened about 6 p.m. to house Augusta area citizens only at the Blythe Community Center on Georgia Highway 88. The Red Cross is helping staff the shelter. James said that they have several shelters identified throughout the county that will be opened, if needed.

The shelter is intended for residents in mobile homes or other structures that cant sustain high impact winds, but its open to anyone who is seeking a safe place. Residents can call 311 if they need transportation to the shelter. James recommends people to prepare to stay at the shelter at least until Thursday night.

Residents can also bring their pets to the shelter and the animals will be taken by animal control to their Mack Lane facility.

A decision in terms of garbage collection and government operations will be made later today, said City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson.

No mandatory evacuation or curfew is planned in the area, at this time, as a result of the storm, Jackson said.

According to the National Weather Service, winds raging from 30 to 50 miles per hour with possible gusts up to 60 miles per hour is expected in the area. In terms of rain, four to six inches of rain can be expected starting Wednesday night through Thursday. There is an elevated threat of tornadoes, as well, according to the National Weather Service.

James said that if winds exceed 45 miles per hour, first responders may only respond to life-threatening emergencies.

Gov. Nathan Deal extended the State of Emergency to 16 additional counties, including Columbia and McDuffie. He issued a state of emergency for 92 counties, including Richmond, on Tuesday.

Aiken, Barnwell, Burke, Columbia, Edgefield, McDuffie, Lincoln and Richmond counties are currently under a tropical storm warning.

The Aiken County Emergency Management Division is currently operating at Operational Condition 1, which is the highest state of emergency preparedness. Aiken County Governmentbe open on Thursday.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster held a briefing Wednesday afternoon at the Aiken County Emergency Management Divisions emergency operations center at the Aiken County Government Center.

“This will not be, indications are now, this will not be a repeat of Hurricane Florence.” McMaster said. “Its projected to come through Georgia and then come  through here. It will probably hit us right around this area, right around Aiken County and will probably proceed through the state quickly, not like Florence which stayed for three days. We are expecting winds in the morning perhaps 40-50 mph. Were also expecting 2-6 inches of rain in some places. There will likely be some flash flooding.

“We want to assure the citizens of South Carolina that this will not be as far as we can tell, this will not be a repeat of what we saw in Florence. It will not be like that. It will not be like Hugo. It will not be like other hurricanes weve had, but it will be high winds and a good bit of water.

“I urge everyone to stay tuned to your county authorities, your municipal authorities and emergency management people and they will keep you informed.”

“Were running 24-hour operations until the duration to make sure that we can be in the position to support local authorities,” Stinson said. “This potentially will be a state-wide event. Everybody is gonna see rain and everybody is gonna see wind. Certainly here in the Aiken area expect to see those high winds and potentially 4-6 inches of rain over the next 24 hours. We have activated our state emergency operations center and will be joined by several state agencies that will help us coordinate any response to the local level.”

Paul Matthews, the director of the Aiken County Emergency Management Division, said, “I think were gonna get some wind and obviously were gonna see some rain as well.  Were concerned also about tornadoes. Its a different set of circumstances (than Florence). We will get more in Aiken County (than from Florence).”

• The Hephzibah at Westside football game has been postponed. It will be played Saturday at 2 p.m.

(WRDW/WAGT) — Were On Your Side with a list of areas that you should avoid and areas that have seen damage according to officials.

Augusta Fire/Rescue says these places should be avoided:12:00 p.m.-McDowell & Meig-Nixon & Mura-11th & Florence-Clayhill Drive-Whaley & Skinner-Nassau & Martingue-Camilla & Wheeler-3000 Chelsea Drive is flooded – avoid this area if possible.

7:58 a.m.-Raes Creek is out of the banks at Ingleside Dr.-Avondale Dr trees down-Warren St tree down-Eisenhower Dr at Castlewood Dr tree down-100 Kings Chapel Rd power line down-Berckman Rd at Indian Creek tree down-Molly Pond and Doug Barnard Pkwy traffic signals out-Hudson Trace and Zachary Place flooding-4252 Windsor Spring Rd down power line -Highland Ave at Hillcrest Drive: power lines down-Deans Bridge Rd at Richmond Hill Rd is flooded-Outside lane all the way up Reynolds street use caution and avoid if possible-Wheeler Rd at I-20 power line down-Harper St flooded-Deans Bridge Rd Southbound between Tobacco Rd and Willis -Foreman Rd trees down-513 Rice Ave power lines and tree down-Greene St and 12th St flooded-Harvey Rd at Pinetree Rd power line down-Traffic lights out at Mike Padgett Hwy at Tobacco Rd-Traffic lights out at Mike Padgett Hwy at Old Waynesboro Rd-Wrightsboro Rd at Magnolia sign hanging down-Reynolds Rd at Lewis Rd power line down-Avondale Dr trees down-Warren St tree down-Hwy 88 at Windsor Spring Rd tree down

-Merriweather Dr in Hammond Hill Subdivision-Five Notch Rd between Pisgah and Ponderosa-Austin Graybill Rd @ National Health Care-W. Martintown Rd between Carolina Ave and Butler one lane blocked-Bunting Drive between Towhee and Lowe-Curtis Dr between Knobcone and Hollis

They are asking drivers to stay off of the roads unless it is an emergency. To report any fallen trees or other road blocks call (803)-279-2121 for fallen trees or other road blockages. Please leave 911 available for emergencies.

Aiken Department of Public Safety say there are some problem areas in the city limits which include:- Richland Avenue from the central business district all the way to Gregg Avenue which is just before Walmart- Whiskey Road from Chesterfield street to pine log road- Traffic lights are without power in many sporadic areas without power, DPS is urging people to treat them as four way stops.

Some of these locations include:- I-20 Eastbound at milemarker 2- I-20 Wesbound at milemarker 5- Whaley Pond Road at Breezy Hill Drive- Vaucluse Road at Senn Street- Atomic Road at Toole Circle- Pine Log Road at Piney Heights Road- Wire Road at Bouknight Road- Augusta Road at Bath Mill Street- Herndon Dairy Road at Arrie Lane to Toole Plantation Road

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