Hurricane Irma put Thomasville on high alert when initial predictions had residents bracing for the worst. A late shift to the east Sunday evening lessened the impact on Thomasville, with Irma downgraded to a Tropical Storm when she made her arrival in Thomasville. Locally, more than 7,300 City of Thomasville Utilities customers were without power at the storm’s peak, and all agree the impact could have been much worse.
“The forecast for Irma became very concerning to all of us on Saturday when we were warned of winds potentially reaching 80-100 mph,” said Steve Sykes, City Manager/General Superintendent. “Fortunately, the storm tracked differently than predicted, and she ended up encountering more land on her way to our area. This change in Irma’s path caused her to substantially weaken, which greatly reduced her impact locally.”
The timing of Hurricane Irma’s effects also changed, with peak winds coming midmorning Monday rather than the overnight hours of Sunday as expected. Once the winds picked up, outages and fallen trees soon followed. Thomas County’s Emergency Management Agency opened the Emergency Operations Center at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, and representative from City and County agencies worked together throughout the storm to both monitor the situation and dispatch crews where needed.
“Our crews are working as quickly as possible to restore the 7,300 customers that remain without power, but widespread outages with numerous fallen trees means that it will take some time to reach full restoration,” said Sykes. “We’ve also had high winds that have grounded our public safety, utility and public works crews for periods of time, as conditions were unsafe for our responders.”
Calls began coming in around 2:00 a.m., with peak activity occurring between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Sykes said that while the situation will improve throughout Monday, it will take time to restore services to all customers.
“In total, we had about 15-20 downed trees within the city of Thomasville, so it will take time to fully clear the debris and bring our customers back online,” said Sykes.
Citizens are urged to use caution when encountering barricades for closed or partially closed streets and roadways and to use alternate routes where roads are blocked. Presently, about 14 City streets and roadways remain closed or partially closed, including:
- Maury and Fontaine
- Wheet and Whitehurst
- Watson and Blackshear
- Spindlewheel and Mississippi
- Old Monticello Rd. and S. Pinetree Blvd.
- East Washington
- Junius Street
- Palmetto and Edgewood
- Hickory St.
- S. Pinetree Blvd. and Club Dr.
- College and Loomis
- Old Albany and Holland
- Eagles Landing Dr.
- Montrose Dr.
A curfew was activated for Thomas County for 9 p.m. which remains in effect while restoration efforts continue. “The curfew is for the safety of both our citizens and our first responders,” said Sykes. “While it can be tempting to venture out after the storm passes to look at the damage, we ask that residents refrain from doing so, as we have unsafe conditions throughout our community.”
Citizens should continue to monitor weather situations throughout the day. “With the amount of rain we’ve had, a flash flood watch has been issued for the area by the National Weather Service.”
City of Thomasville administrative offices were closed on Monday, September 11th and will remain closed on Tuesday, September 12th. Full operations will resume on Wednesday, September 13th.