Assessment, cleanup underway in SE Alabama after Michael
HOUSTON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A day has passed since Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm, skipped across extreme southeast Alabama, barreled into Georgia and diminished to a still dangerous tropical storm over the Carolinas.
Now, the work is underway to assess damage, find victims who may be trapped, and rebuild.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is in Houston and Geneva counties Thursday afternoon to tour the storm damage by air and on the ground.
The eastern part of Houston County is heavily damaged including cities and towns like Ashford, Gordon and Columbia. Officials stress that unless you’re emergency personnel, there is no traffic allowed into the town of Columbia because of so much damage.
There are multiple reports of trees down across several south Alabama counties. As of Wednesday night, there were 47 calls about trees falling into structures in Houston County that resulted in 22 people being rescued, most with minor injuries. However, there were some serious and critical injuries among the victims.
According to the City of Dothan, a tree fell on a home at the intersection of Wiregrass Drive and Saunders Road. First responders reported three injuries, including one victim in critical condition. No other details about the situation are currently known.
In the Houston County town of Columbia, a man was struck in the head by flying debris. That incident happened on Benton Store Road. The severity of the victim’s injuries aren’t immediately known.
Cottonwood, also a town in Houston County, reported a head injury after after a man fell 8 feet. The circumstances surrounding his injuries weren’t immediately clear.
In Henry County, the sheriff’s office says there was “severe damage” and was working with the Henry County Road and Bridge, local fire and rescue, state road departments, and power companies to get residents back to normal.
In Eufaula, located in Barbour County, even the police were affected by the storm. While traveling down Randolph Street in response to a call, Police Chief Steve Watkins had a large tree fall across the top of his police SUV.
There’s also major damage to the south Alabama cotton crop yield, according to ALFA.
Officials advise that power outages will be widespread and last a while. They ask that residents be patient and have supplies to last them 72 hours if they are without power. Officials ask residents to use 211 for non-emergency calls, leaving 911 free for life-or-death situations.
- As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Alabama Power confirms outages were down from 43,000 customers to about 24,000. The vast majority of those outages exist in southeast Alabama (Houston, Henry, Geneva, Dale, Barbour and Lee counties). [Outage Map: AlabamaPower]
- As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative says it has 14,500 members without power, down from about 18,000 at its peak.
- As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Pea River Electric Cooperative in Ozark reports 8,238 consumer-members still without power throughout Barbour, Dale and Henry counties, down from 12,152 and nine substations that were out Wednesday. [Outage Map: www.peariver.com]
- As of 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Covington Electric Cooperative says it has 1,400 members without service in Covington County, 600 in Coffee, Crenshaw and Geneva counties. Crews are working to restore power. [Outage Map: http://outage.covington.coop/]
- TRAFFIC AND ROAD CONDITIONS: www.ALGOtraffic.com
- Henry County roads are considered impassable as of 4 p.m. Wednesday until further notice
- Eufaula’s mayor says most roads are now clear, though a few are still impassable. Crews cleared more than 40 downed trees overnight.
- Barbour County Sheriff’s Office asks residents to stay off county roads until further notice. Several have trees and power lines down.
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