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Tropical Storm Irma topples trees, downs power lines in Dawson
Thousands without power morning after storm
Irma damage
Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Training Director Russell Smith talks with civilians who aided in moving a large tree out of the roadway on Hwy. 136 W. Tuesday morning. - photo by Allie Dean


With thousands without power and trees down on every main road, Dawson County felt the harsh effects of Tropical Storm Irma Monday as the storm blew through the county, making its way up from South Georgia and Florida.

Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said that downed trees and entangled power lines were the major impacts of the storm, which killed three in Georgia, including one woman in North Forsyth.

According to Swafford, 30 roadways were blocked during the height of the storm, many at the same time.  Included in those were Hwy.’s 9, 136 and 52. As of noon Tuesday, all state routes were open while other smaller county roads remained closed.

“Several county roads including New Hope, Howser Mill, Gold Mine, Vandivere, Mill Creek, and possibly others remain completely closed,” Swafford said in an email. “This is due to the trees being entangled with power lines.”

Hwy. 136 was one of the worst hit, with several downed power lines stretched across the roadway. The road was closed between Ga. 400 and Hwy. 9 for over an hour as crews worked to clear trees and lines out of the way, according to officials with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.

Swafford reported that five homes were impacted, three with minor damage and two with major damage. Two businesses also reported minor damage, Dawsonville’s Cold Creek Farms and Ferrell Gas. Fire Station No. 1 also suffered wind damage.

Power was majorly affected by the storm as thousands went to bed Monday night without power.

Tuesday morning, there were over 6,000 people without power in Dawson County: Georgia Power had 2,579 customers without power, Sawnee had 1,433 without and Amicalola had 2,511 without, according their outage maps.

At the height of the storm, Georgia Power had an estimated 940,000 customers across the state without power, and Sawnee EMC had over 30,000 without power during the peak across its seven county service area.

Amicalola EMC, whose crews suspended work on power restoration around 7:30 p.m. Monday night, had 27,582 customers out across its 10 county service area Tuesday morning when crews resumed work at 6 a.m.

County and city government offices were closed Tuesday along with the health department and Lanier Technical College. The school system was closed Monday and Tuesday, and it was announced Tuesday afternoon that due to impassable roads and power outages, school would be cancelled Wendesday as well.

A Dawsonville Planning Commission meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 12 was cancelled, as well as a 5 p.m. Etowah Water and Sewer Authority Board meeting.

A Dawsonville City Council meeting that was supposed to be held 5 p.m. Monday night was cancelled and rescheduled for before the work session at 5 p.m. Sept. 18.

Swafford said he had 25 emergency services personnel on duty throughout the night, and numerous sheriff’s office and public works employees worked overtime, carrying chainsaws in their vehicles.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the staff of DCES, DCSO, Dawson County 911, public works, county administration, the City of Dawsonville and the linemen from Amicalola EMC, Sawnee EMC and Georgia Power,” Swafford said Tuesday. “All efforts thus far have been a team effort. We will be returning the Emergency Operations Center to normal level at noon today. All ongoing recovery efforts will be the focus of public works and utilities.”