Deal visits to survey damage in Augusta area

Governor visits to view damage, recovery efforts

 

Two weeks after a winter storm paralyzed metro At­lanta, Gov. Nathan Deal said he was “very pleased” with state and local response to this week’s storm after observing the Au­gus­ta area from the air with the heads of Richmond and Columbia counties.

“The major roadways all seemed to be moving very well,” Deal said to a crowd of Atlanta reporters who arrived at Daniel Field airport just ahead of Deal on a Georgia Army National Guard helicopter.

Deal extended through Sunday the state declaration of emergency that affects the area. He spoke Thursday with Federal Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, Georgia Emer­­gency Management Agen­cy and Home­land Se­cur­ity officials to determine whether the storm response “rises to the level that would trigger federal financial assistance to the state,” according to spokesman Brian Robinson.
In metro Augusta, a “significant National Guard presence,” including 156 members and 41 vehicles, had been deployed to assist, Deal said.

Though as much as 75 percent of area Georgia Power customers remained without electricity at the time of Deal’s visit, Mayor Deke Copen­haver said he was “pleasantly surprised” by what they had seen from the air, that about 95 percent of roads were clear.

Across Augusta, “no neighborhood was singled out” or spared damage and power outages from what appears a “once-in-a-lifetime storm” for the area, he said.

Asked to compare the state’s response to the storm to the Atlanta snow two weeks ago, Deal said drivers in Augusta stayed home as instructed.

“The greatest difference is we had cooperation from the public,” he said. “It is really miraculous that we have not had fatalities on our roadways with as much snow and ice that we’ve had.”

As soon as Georgia Power gets a downed major transmission line back in service, power will likely be restored to many in the area, Deal said.

Columbia County Commis­sion Chairman Ron Cross thanked National Guard Lt. Col. Bobby Christine for coordinating the Guard response in Augusta.

Georgia Department of Trans­portation board member Don Grantham, of Au­gusta, praised the department’s decision to deploy 48 vehicles from elsewhere in the state to ensure that state-maintained roads were clear and safe. Interstate 20 and other main roads never had to be closed, Grantham said.

Grantham, whose home was one of thousands that remained without power Thurs­­day, said the response had pulled the community together.

“We have seen so much community effort,” he said.

Interim Augusta Adminis­trator Tameka Allen said many local emergency, law enforcement and traffic personnel had been working all night, doing “a tremendous job” to keep the public safe. Allen said she expected cleanup from the storm to “take awhile” but had no immediate estimate.

Augusta Fire Chief Chris James said downed power lines remain a tremendous hazard and urged residents to stay away from them and off the roads.

Augusta hardest hit statewide for power outages
Storm no fun for many Augusta residents
Augusta motorists urged to remain off roads
Closings, changes, weather updates
Ice hits famed Magnolia Lane
Traffic backed up on Washington Road
HALEY TO VISIT TODAY

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will visit Aiken today to view storm damage and meet with local officials and utility companies on power-restoration efforts.

She will fly to the Aiken airport at 10:30 a.m. and tour various locations by car. She will meet with officials at 11:15 a.m. in the city’s Administration and Finance Building at 135 Laurens St. SW.

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