Wednesday, August 30, 2023–7:32 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for several counties in the south-central and southeast portions of Georgia and a watch in other areas ahead of Hurricane Idalia.
Governor Brian P. Kemp has issued a state of emergency declaration for all of Georgia to provide emergency assistance in anticipation of Hurricane Idalia and its effects on the counties in its path.
Hurricane Idalia has officially made landfall near Keaton Beach in Florida and is currently a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.
There have been no major changes to the track or impacts to east and central GA since the previous update, and it continues to move NNE at 18 mph.
Georgia DOT is preparing on a statewide level in partnership with the Governor’s Office, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service, and state and local officials. The traveling public’s safety is a top priority as Georgia DOT readies for expected weather conditions. Maintaining Georgia’s bridges and thousands of miles of state routes and interstates is essential before, during, and after the storm.
Statewide, Georgia DOT crews are prepared to activate and deploy as needed.
- Georgia DOT’s Transportation Management Center (TMC) is currently monitoring traffic conditions statewide.
- Crews are at the ready to respond to storm impacts in southern and coastal Georgia. For their safety, Georgia DOT will monitor weather conditions and will begin cleanup efforts to ensure roads are clear for emergency personnel use as soon as it is considered safe for crews to be out.
- Currently, Georgia DOT has nearly 1,200 employees statewide standing at the ready to respond to storm impacts, with access to over 1,100 pieces of vital equipment and vehicles that support their storm response.
- Georgia DOT crews in the northern and middle parts of the state are prepared to mobilize for deployment to other parts of the state as needed.
Motorists are advised of the following:
- Motorists traveling on interstates and state routes should be wary of the possibility of falling trees due to high winds. Georgia DOT is actively engaged in the removal of trees and overgrown brush along state rights-of-way in an effort to mitigate the possibility of falling trees across roadways, a particular danger during hurricanes and tropical storms.
- Expected rainfall brings the possibility of flash flooding in some areas of Georgia. Motorists should take caution and be prepared to turn around when encountering water in the road. Do not drive around barricades. Vehicles can get swept away by as little as twelve inches of moving water.
- Please do not attempt to clear debris from the roads. Downed live power lines can be entangled in fallen trees and branches and can be deadly, so please allow Georgia DOT and Georgia Power crews to do this important work safely.
- Motorists are advised to treat intersections with non-operational signals as a four-way stop.
- Residents choosing to leave south or coastal Georgia ahead of the storm are advised to consult 511, state maps, and wayfinding apps to determine the best, least congested route to ensure safe travel.
To help facilitate easier travel, Georgia DOT has suspended construction work in southern and coastal Georgia. This includes all construction work at the I-16/I-95 interchange, effective immediately.
“We urge motorists to pay attention to warnings and advisories to stay off the roads due to the potential for tornadoes, extremely high winds, flash flooding, and downed trees,” said Emily Fish, Georgia DOT’s Assistant State Maintenance Engineer – Emergency Operations.
Georgia DOT’s maintenance staff and bridge inspectors will be available once the dangerous weather conditions subside to patrol the interstates, state roadways, and bridges to assist in identifying potential hazards or negative impacts to travel. In the event that flooding occurs, for their safety crews will wait until the water recedes to assess the situation. If motorists see flash flooding, trees down, or other obstructions on roadways or bridges impeding travel, they are urged to contact 511 and speak with an operator to report the incidents. Again, due to the possibility of entangled power lines in downed trees, please do not try to clear debris. Instead, wait for Georgia DOT and Georgia Power crews. Motorists are also reminded to not hinder GDOT crews as they work to clear debris. Additionally, the public should monitor local radio and TV stations for the latest details on weather conditions and possible evacuations.
For real-time road conditions, call 511 or visit Georgia511. For weather information, visit the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida, or the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia.
Georgia Power also preparing for the storm
Power teams are making their final preparations and mobilizing restoration workers and equipment as Hurricane Idalia continues strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. At the company’s Storm Center in Atlanta, response experts are coordinating efforts, including with Regional Teams in Coastal Georgia and teams that will relocate from other areas of the state to help restore power for customers as quickly as possible.
The hurricane is forecast to enter Georgia as a tropical storm bringing heavy rain and strong wind gusts, which could topple trees and send debris into power lines and other equipment causing outages. The company is mobilizing crews and equipment in the central, southern, and coastal areas of the state in order to respond to potential power outages as quickly as possible.
In recent years, Georgia Power’s use of Smart Grid technology and increased automation are helping restoration teams to more quickly isolate outages and reroute power remotely for improved reliability. The company continually invests in its energy grid not only in preparation for severe weather but also to increase the day-to-day reliability of its systems and shorten outage and repair time.
Just as Georgia Power prepares for severe weather, the company urges customers to be prepared for Tropical Storm Idalia. Customers should have an emergency plan that helps their families stay safe and be prepared to be without power for at least three days following a storm. It is important customers know the risks associated with flooding and tropical storm winds in their area, have an emergency plan and supplies, and follow safety advice from their local authorities.
Georgia Power reminds customers to keep safety first during hurricane season and offers the following storm tips:
· Before a Storm: Know your risks of storm surge and tropical storm or hurricane-strength winds. Check your emergency kit, unplug major appliances, and charge cell phones in case you lose power.
· During a Storm: Take safe shelter inside a sturdy building away from windows and doors. Avoid contact with conductors of electricity – appliances, metal objects, and water.
· After a Storm: Never touch any downed or low-hanging wire, including telephone or TV wires that touch a power line. Never pull tree limbs off of power lines yourself or enter areas with debris or downed trees as downed power lines may be buried in wreckage.
Staying informed is critical during severe weather and Georgia Power is committed to connecting with its customers before, during, and after severe weather. The following resources help our customers stay informed:
· Outage & Storm Center – Available at www.georgiapower.com/storm, customers can visit this site to check their contact information is updated to receive Outage Alerts, report and check the status of outages, and access useful safety tips and information. Customers can report and check the status of an outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.
· Outage Map – Housed within the Outage & Storm Center, Georgia Power’s interactive Outage Map provides near real-time information, allowing users to see where outages are occurring across the state and track estimated restoration times.
· @GeorgiaPower on Twitter – Follow @GeorgiaPower on Twitter for storm tips, outage updates, customer service, and more.
Atlanta Gas Light offers tips ahead of expected impacts from Hurricane Idalia
With the safety of the public, its employees, and its pipelines at the forefront, Atlanta Gas Light is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Idalia and how it may impact service operations and customers in Southeast Georgia. Atlanta Gas Light is implementing its comprehensive emergency response plan and is advising customers to take the necessary precautions now to protect themselves and their families.
Meteorologists are predicting that Hurricane Idalia could bring gusty and damaging winds, heavy rain, isolated tornadoes, and coastal flooding across Coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry. Atlanta Gas Light is providing the following guidelines associated with natural gas safety before, during and after the storm:
- Customers are encouraged to know the location of their natural gas meter.
- Following a weather emergency, customers should ensure the natural gas meter is visible, and the area surrounding the meter is free of trash and debris. Mechanical equipment used after the storm to clean up a location may damage the meter if it is hidden.
- If a natural gas meter is damaged or an underground gas line is exposed, customers should immediately leave the area, and call the Atlanta Gas Light 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-427-4321 or 911 from a safe location.
- Customers are advised to leave their natural gas service operational during a hurricane or severe storm. Most modern gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of natural gas automatically with a loss of gas pressure or flooding of the appliances.
- Leaving appliances operational could prevent further damage of water getting into the customer’s fuel line or appliance control valves. Electronic ignition appliances will not come on when the power source has been impacted.
- If you are uncomfortable leaving your appliances operational, contact a trained professional (certified plumber or HVAC representative) to shut off your appliances at the shut-off valves. When it is safe to do so, have them return to turn the valves back on, leak test the line, and turn on and test the appliance for safe operation.
- If flooding occurs at a residence or business and the gas appliances are under water, customers are advised not to operate their appliances until a safety inspection is conducted by a certified plumber or HVAC representative.
Detecting Gas Leaks
- If customers smell the distinctive rotten-egg odor associated with natural gas, they should leave the area immediately and move a safe distance away from the potential leak, while avoiding any action that may cause sparks.
- Look for blowing dirt, discolored vegetation, or continued bubbling in standing water.
- Customers should never try to identify the source of a leak or stop the leak themselves.
- Avoid using any sources of ignition, such as cell phones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices, motorized vehicles, light switches, or landlines, as natural gas can ignite from a spark or open flame, possibly causing a fire or explosion.
- Customers should call the Atlanta Gas Light 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-427-4321 or 911 once they are in a safe place out of the area of the suspected leak. They should also stay away until Atlanta Gas Light or emergency personnel indicate it is safe to return.
- Strong winds and saturated ground could cause trees to become uprooted. Before removing downed trees, customers should contact Georgia 811 to have the location of underground utility lines marked because downed trees could become tangled with the utility lines.
- If a natural gas meter is damaged or a natural gas line is exposed, customers should immediately leave the area and call the Atlanta Gas Light 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-427-4321 or 911 from a safe location.
Natural Gas Generators
- During a power outage, natural gas generators can provide continuous fuel supply from an existing natural gas line. While these units are available in a range of sizes to meet various energy needs, customers are encouraged to contact Atlanta Gas Light prior to the installation to determine whether their service line and meter meets load requirements for the generator’s safe and efficient operation.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
- To ensure the safe, proper operation of natural gas appliances, and to prevent the potentially hazardous buildup of carbon monoxide within your home or business, ensure that outdoor vent openings and air intakes are not obstructed.
- If customers smell natural gas or suspect carbon monoxide is present in their home or business, they should immediately leave the area and call the Atlanta Gas Light 24-hour emergency response line at 1-877-427-4321 or 911 from a safe location.
- Residents are encouraged to seek medical attention immediately if anyone in their home or business experiences possible symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
For more information about natural gas safety, visit https://www.atlantagaslight.com/safety/safety-precautions/severe-weather-safety.html.