Wind, rain sweep through county

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Emergency management officials are calling Monday’s storm a “wind and rain event” after 70 mph winds downed trees and power lines and left more than 1,000 residents without power Tuesday morning.

Susan Harris, Covington County EMA director, said there were no reports of structural damage; however, wind gusts caused power outages in Andalusia, Red Level, Gantt, Dozier, Florala and rural parts of the county.

“That is what we call a wind and rain event,” Harris said. “And at night, it’s much worse for people because it’s dark outside, and you can’t see what’s going on or what the damage is until morning.

“We were very lucky,” she said.

The system moved through the area around 10 p.m., bringing with it thunder and lightning, high wind gusts and nearly 2 inches of rain.

Covington Electric Cooperative spokesperson Patty Singleton-Seay said the company reported 1,050 outages at its peak in areas of Covington, Coffee, Crenshaw and Geneva counties. By Tuesday morning, an estimated 50 customers were without power; however, it was restored around 10 a.m.

Alabama Power, who services residences in the Florala area, reported that a live oak tree on U.S. Hwy. 331 took down four spans of wire, leaving 800 customers without power in Florala.

“We had to get a tree crew out there to remove the tree, then a line crew to reset the pole and restring the line before power could be restored,” said Alabama Power spokesperson Linda Brannon. “There were 400 customers who lost power because of that tree alone.”

Brannon said power was restored to all 800 customers by 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Harris said wind speed increased as the storm made its way eastward, causing damages all the way to the Georgia line.

There were eight storm-related deaths reported as of Tuesday afternoon – six in Georgia, one in Mississippi and another in Tennessee.