WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – The southern portion of our viewing area battled Irma putting crews to work to help keep people safe. The Burke County Emergency Management Agency operated on a partial level all day. Staff tracked damages and outages too.
NewsChannel 6 spoke with Burke County Emergency Management Director Rusty Sanders about the hours the storm moved through his area.
“I hate that anybody has to experience what they’re going thorough right now, but I was very happy when the track of the storm moved over westward,” he said after Hurricane Irma reduced to a tropical storm.
Hard rain and high winds across Burke County left dangling traffic lights, downed power lines and fallen trees.
“We’re not at full throttle in the operations center right now. We’re at partial operations level,” Chief Sanders said of the Emergency Operations Center.
Tropical Storm Irma left a couple of inches of rain across the county. The high winds began knocking down trees early, sending the Waynesboro mayor out to oversee cleanup efforts.
He told us during the onset of the storm, “We’re looking at our Main Street area because we have a lot of trees there, our city park area.”
More uprooting happened in the county, but EMA officials report those were wide spread. NewsChannel 6 found one on Highway 23 near Padgett’s Farm. It took a power line down with it.
Inside the EMA, a small team monitored dispatch and tracked response to the storm countywide.
“Less than 1400 to 1500 people without power and they’re probably going to be that way for a while. We’re not the only people experiencing this. It’s wide spread. It’s going to take utility companies several hours if not into tomorrow sometime before they’re able to get the power restored.”
Downtown Waynesboro saw some damages too. City offices closed for the day along with schools. And decisions will be made soon regarding Tuesday.
Nearby Jenkins County saw similar reports to the impact of Irma, with trees down all over Millen according to the EMA there.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps