A cold night kept many area roads impassable Thursday morning while power outages plagued as many as 85 percent of the customers in Richmond and Columbia counties.
Pam Tucker, director of Columbia County’s emergency services, called the situation “critical” and referred to Wednesday’s ice storm as a “major disaster situation.” She said the loss of power affected 85 percent of the county.
Thousands of trees were down on roads and power lines, she reported this morning.
“Please do not venture out at all today. We will advise as soon as conditions are better,” she said.
An outage map on Georgia Power’s Web site showed similar power problems in Richmond County.
Steve Chalker, a spokesman for Jefferson Energy Cooperative agreed, calling the situation “catastrophic.”
“As far as number of people out, this is the worst,” he wrote in an e-mail at 6 a.m. “We have just under 28,000 members total with around 27,000 out now. Very catastrophic to say the least. But our crews are awesome, and we have more help coming in today so we should make great progress today. “
Richmond County also struggled with impassable roads and power outages.
According an update from Richmond County emergency officials, a shelter set up last night to help families at May Park community center lost power and was unable to accept more residents.
A new shelter was to open at noon. The Richmond County Department of Family and Children Services and the American Red Cross will operate the facility at 2920 Mike Padgett Highway.
Richmond County road conditions were dangerous, as well, and motorists were advised to stay off the roads unless traveling for an emergency.
And although temperatures are supposed to rise well above freezing later Thursday, forecasters were also anticipating wet roads to refreeze Thursday night, which could lead to patches of black ice.