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More than 350,000 without power as Zeta cleanup enters 2nd day

By Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

More than 350,000 Georgians are without power Friday morning in the wake of Tropical Storm Zeta, and it could be several more days before the lights turn back on, according to officials.

Georgia Power said it hopes to restore power to 95% of its impacted customers by Sunday night, but it expects “the great majority of customers” to be restored before then. The utility was reporting nearly 330,000 outages statewide as of 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Another 130,000 Georgia EMC customers were still without power Friday, the majority of those in metro Atlanta. After Thursday morning’s deluge, nearly 1 million people throughout the state were in the dark.

Georgia Power said Zeta’s widespread destruction across the Southeast has hampered their restoration efforts.

“Normally, we’d tap into our network of utility partners for the quickest restoration, but since Zeta damage was so extensive, mutual assistance resources are limited,” the company said on Twitter.

Georgia EMC, the trade association representing the state’s 41 customer-owned EMCs, said its crews are encountering thousands of downed trees and limbs and hundreds of damaged or destroyed power poles or lines.

“The average time to replace a broken distribution pole is four hours, which is a good example of why restoration times have been and will be lengthy for some members,” association spokeswoman Terri Statham said.

Damage inflicted by Zeta “is some of the worst Georgia has seen in a number of years,” Statham said. EMC assessment teams have compared the storm’s impact to that experienced during hurricanes Matthew, Michael and Irma.

As cleanup continues, the utilities are warning against touching downed or low hanging wires. Avoid areas with debris or fallen trees, as power lines may be buried in the wreckage.