UPDATE | EMCs restore power to thousands; customers need to follow precautions

Sept. 12, 2017

TUCKER, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Hurricane Irma's effects swept through the CSRA, eliminating power for thousands, but a day later, power was restored.

As of 8 p.m., Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) are reporting approximately 286,000 customers without power, down from a peak of 550,000 customers last night, according to a press release. EMC crews and additional personnel have worked non-stop and made considerable progress, too.

Tropical Storm Irma caused more than a half million EMC outages, making this a historic event for electric cooperatives in Georgia. EMCs predicted severe damage and have arranged help from 14 states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

However, after conducting the initial damage assessment, and crews identified the sheer number of downed trees, power lines and power poles, it became clear that Irma and the resulting restoration process would be a unique situation. It affected every part of the state and every EMC to some degree. Additionally, many outages occurred in remote areas, in areas with impassable roadways that will require days of work in some instances to clear debris and trees before work can begin on the distribution network.

Consequently, EMCs have said restoration will span days, not hours, and advise members to consider making alternate arrangements if necessary and to follow their local EMC outage updates provided in newspapers, TV and radio, social media and EMC web sites.

Amid restoration, EMCs caution members to be mindful of the following safety tips for the protection of the public and EMC personnel:

-Continue to use caution and stay away from downed power lines. This is especially true in wet situations and even more so with standing water as a result of this storm

-Do not try and remove trees or limbs that have fallen onto power lines.

-If using a home portable generator, never run it indoors and never plug it into any part of the house. Doing so may feed electricity out of the house to power lines outside your home, causing serious injury or death to an EMC employee who is working on downed lines or a member of the public who comes into contact with a downed power line.

Sept. 11, 2017

TUCKER, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Power outages have transpired due to the effects of Hurricane Irma.

According to a press release, as of 8 p.m., Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) are reporting approximately 537,000 customers without power, up from 375,000 this afternoon. The day started with 31,000 outages in south and southeast Georgia, but EMC representatives warned that numbers would increase as the effects of Hurricane Irma pummeled the state.

As soon as weather permitted, EMC crews descended upon hardest hit areas to begin damage assessments followed by early stages of restoration work. This storm in particular, which has generated sustained winds in excess of 50 mph, caused widespread damage to trees, power lines and power poles. In some cases, trees must be cleared from roadways before line workers can access outages.

According to the press release, EMCs began preparations for Hurricane Irma more than a week ago and have participated in daily discussions with co-ops from across the country to arrange for extra crews, trucks and equipment. Help has arrived or is on the way from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina as well as Iowa, Illinois and Oklahoma. Extra help will be vital to the restoration effort which includes impassable roadways in many areas and hours upon hours to clear debris and trees before work can begin on downed lines.

The cooperatives are providing assistance through mutual aid agreements between the nation's nearly 1,000 electric cooperatives, which help one another during natural disasters, including power restoration efforts.

Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia’s customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area.

For latest outage information, go to georgiaemc.com/storm-center/current-outages..

Read the original version of this article at www.wrdw.com.