- Russell Grantham The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Over 300,000 customers in metro Atlanta suffered power outages as heavy winds from Tropical Storm Irma rolled into the area Monday afternoon.
Other areas of the state also were hit with widespread outages.
Almost 1.2 million Georgia customers were without power by 4 p.m. Monday, with more tree-snapping winds forecast to come later in the evening.
While power line crews and just about everyone else across the state hunkered down to avoid dangerous winds, the Georgia coast and southern half of the state took the brunt of Tropical Storm Irma’s wrath early in the day as it headed north from Florida.
But by the end of the day, customers were in the dark across the state.
Georgia Power reported more than 800,000 customers were affected, while Georgia EMC, a trade group that represents electrical utility cooperatives, said more than 382,000 homes and businesses were without power in its service areas.
Metro Atlanta had the largest number of outages, but other cities lost power to tens of thousands of customers.
Savannah had more than 78,000 customers still without power late in the afternoon, down from more than 80,000 earlier in the day. Other coastal areas were hit hard as well, with more than 62,000 homes and businesses without power in St. Simons Island and Brunswick and surrounding areas.
Columbus had almost 37,000 customers with outages, while Macon had more than 71,000. Augusta had almost 35,000.
Coastal and south Georgia accounted for most of the outages at electric coops, according to Georgia EMC, with more than 208,000 affected customers.
According to Georgia Power’s outage map, the eastern part of metro Atlanta was being hit with largest number of outages, with roughly 199,000. Especially hard hit was DeKalb County, where almost 116,000 homes or business -- roughly one out of three customers in the county -- lost power.
Georgia Power cautioned customers to be prepared for a long slog before their electricity is restored, given the widespread damage from downed trees, broken limbs and other problems whipped up by Irma’s wind gusts. The Atlanta utility said to keep lights handy and phones and other devices charged up in case it takes a while to restore power.
“It could take from days to weeks, honestly,” said Georgia Power spokeswoman Ashley West.
Georgia Power had initially dispatched crews to repair damaged power lines in the Atlanta area Monday morning, but recalled them to staging areas as the winds began to pick up.
West said crews remained on hold Monday afternoon because high winds make working on power lines dangerous. Georgia Power has crews from Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi waiting in staging areas in Atlanta, Macon, Tifton and Valdosta.
Heavy winds with gusts of more than 50 miles began hitting the Atlanta metro area by early afternoon, making downed trees and power lines likely.
Georgia Power said it has about 3,400 personnel and crews standing by to respond to power outages after the storm leaves affected areas.
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