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UPDATE: Nearly 175,000 still without power after Zeta

By Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

Nearly 175,000 Georgians were still without power Friday night after Tropical Storm Zeta battered the state Thursday.

Power crews have restored electricity to hundreds of thousands of residents, but it could be several more days before all the lights are turned back on, according to utility officials. In the meantime, home improvement stores across metro Atlanta are seeing a run on items such as generators and flashlights, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Georgia Power said it hopes to restore electricity to 95% of its impacted customers by Sunday night, though “the great majority of customers” are expected to have power before then.

The utility started the day with reports of nearly 330,000 outages statewide. By 10 p.m., that number had dropped to 107,000. Another 68,043 Georgia EMC customers remained in the dark Friday night, the majority of those in metro Atlanta.

After Thursday morning’s deluge, nearly 1 million people throughout the state lost power.

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,” she said, and EMC assessment teams have compared the storm’s impact to that experienced during hurricanes Matthew, Michael and Irma.

EMCs across the state appear to be making progress, however. The 68,043 customers without power in metro Atlanta, north and northeast Georgia was down from nearly 89,000 earlier in the day and 400,000 on Thursday.

As cleanup continues, 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.

Those in need of Wi-Fi can use free Xfinity hot spots, according to Comcast. You do not need to be an Xfinity customer to make use of the service, a company representative said. Comcast opened its network due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will keep it open through the end of the year.