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Augusta continues to clean up areas hard-hit by Friday microbursts

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 7:03 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 2:31 AM
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City work crews, tree removal services and Georgia Power Co. continued clearing debris and repairing power lines Tuesday after strong storms swept across the area Friday, causing significant damage in Augusta.

City worker Carlose Hughes (left) supervised debris pickup Tuesday morning at Westview Cemetery.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
City worker Carlose Hughes (left) supervised debris pickup Tuesday morning at Westview Cemetery.

Milledge Road and nearby blocks were still busy with crews rushing to complete cleanup. Several city departments shared the workload and said they were working to tally a total cost of the damage.

Bartlett Tree Service estimated it removed nearly 50 oak and pine trees beginning Saturday. It recruited workers from Hilton Head Island, S.C., Charlotte, N.C., and Virginia to join local crews. A central point of command was established at the corner of Milledge and Overton roads, near one of the hardest hit areas.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the storm included a series of microbursts, with Daniel Field airport registering wind gusts of 70 mph. About 15,000 Georgia Power customers lost electricity immediately after the storm.

“We’ve been going 16-hour days, just straight working through,” said Damian Stower, a Bartlett Tree Experts foreman. “All day Saturday, we were doing crane removal taking trees off houses.”

Georgia Power trucks were in the same area Tuesday conducting final repairs. Late-falling trees weakened by the storms continued to knock down wires the past two days but caused few, if any, outages, Georgia Power lineman Curtis Crawford said.

Gary Street, another area hit hard by the storm, was almost entirely cleared Tuesday afternoon after three full days of work.

Crews from Augusta Parks, Recreation and Facilities began work early Monday and continued Tuesday to remove nearly a dozen large trees from Cedar Grove, Magnolia and Westview cemeteries. The department contracted companies to remove more trees at May Park on Fourth Street and at Watkins and Third Streets, said Melinda Pearson, the operations manager.

“They’re a little large for us, but we’re doing what we have to do because the city is overwhelmed right now,” she said Monday.

Columbia County completed work Monday to remove six trees from rights of way, Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker said. The total cost was $650.

State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson said the damage wasn’t large enough to activate catastrophe teams. The insurance agency didn’t receive a large number of damage claims but said the storm was a good reminder to prepare for the severe weather season.


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