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Thousands suffer power outages in Southern Crescent

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

High winds and heavy rain buckled trees and power lines across the region. However, there were few injuries reported as caused by the line of Thursday's severe thunderstorms, according to officials.

There were many power outages throughout the Southern Crescent, officials said.

"A majority of the lights in the City of Hampton were out for three hours," said police Capt. Derrick Austin.

Also, McDonough Police Chief Preston Dorsey said trees and power lines were blown down throughout the City of McDonough, knocking out power to traffic lights around the McDonough Square and at Ga. Highway 155 and Industrial Blvd.

Henry County Emergency Management Director Don Ash said the agency received several calls about downed trees and power lines.

"We saw an increase in call volume," said Ash. He said most calls pertained to fallen trees on roadways and houses.

"We really encourage people to be mindful of the weather and keep a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Weather Radio," added the emergency management director. "Always have a severe weather plan in place for you and your family as well as an identified safe area to go to in your home in the event of a severe weather situation."

Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright said a high volume of power outages was reported throughout the state as a result of equipment damage and downed power lines caused by the Thursday storms.

"We had over 220,000 customers out at one time, and the majority of the outages were in metro Atlanta," said Boatright.

By midday Friday, she continued, there were 42,000 Georgia Power customers statewide still without power. Of those, 37,000 were reported from metro Atlanta, and mostly in Clayton and DeKalb counties.

Boatright said the volume and range of outages in the Clayton County area was larger Thursday than it was during the tornado outbreaks April 27, and April 28. Georgia Power data indicates that Henry County customers reported some 1,900 power outages on April 28, compared to roughly 14,000 reported outages in Henry County, on May 26.

"A month ago, it was a very distinct tornado that left a path of damage," said Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation spokeswoman Christy Chewning. "Last month, everything was in three concentrated areas. But with these severe thunderstorms, everything was widespread."

Chewning said the electric utility started receiving reports of outages at 6:13 p.m., Thursday, and had reached a total of 8,697 outages throughout the 14-county territory by 7 p.m. Most outages were reported in Spalding County (3,292), Clayton County (1,670), and Henry County (1,461).

"Our crews worked through the night, and by 6 a.m. [Friday], we only had 820 [Central Georgia EMC] customers without power over the whole territory," said Chewning, adding that by midday Friday that number had decreased to about 230.

Staff writer Elaine Rackley contributed to this article.