TUCKER,Ga. – 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.
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.