Tropical Storm Irma caused about the same amount of damage in Glynn County as Hurricane Matthew but will take longer to repair because the work force is spread so widely, a Georgia Power official said Tuesday.
“The sheer amount is about the same,” Georgia Power area manager Paulo Albuquerque said during an afternoon news conference. “The number of workers is less.”
There was severe devastation in Florida and throughout Georgia, and that means the work force is spread thin, said Albuquerque, who manages Georgia Power’s coastal region.
There are about 200 workers in Glynn County and as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, 6,000 customers have had power restored and assessments have been done over 60 percent of the county, he said.
The loss of power is the main issue in getting the sewer system fully operational, said Jimmy Junkin, executive director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission.
The wastewater treatment plants are still working, but the lift stations that move that sewage along aren’t all working, he said.
Those will be brought back on line in a formal sequence once power is restored, Junkin said.
Enough people evacuated that the system can handle the wastewater generated by the reduced population, he said.
SLIDESHOWS: IRMA'S AFTERMATH
The water system has continued to work throughout the storm, Junkin said.
County Emergency Management Director Jay Wiggins was not ready to say when the county would be fully reopened for re-entry by all residents and that checkpoints wouldn’t be lifted until the county is made safe.
County Commission Chairman Bill Brunson said Irma came too closely on Matthew’s heels.
Officials called Matthew, “a once in a 100-year event. I guess that makes me about 170 years old,” he said.
He also addressed safety and asked the public to keep in mind that less than 24 hours earlier, the county had a storm surge and flooding throughout. The county is taking steps to protect lives, and he understands that people are frustrated living in motel rooms.
“I’m one of them. My house was flooded. My family is 175 miles away,” Brunson said.
He cited inoperable traffic lights at major intersections and said it was amazing there haven’t been accidents.
“Right now, we don’t feel our community is safe,” he said.
Interim Glynn County Police Chief John Powell said law enforcement’s work is made easier with fewer people, but he said county police will enforce the law including an overnight curfew like that imposed by other impacted counties.
Wiggins said that once power is restored, grocers and other businesses can reopen and and begin supplying food and other necessities rather that having emergency officials establish distribution points.
All of the local officials are in the same boat as other residents, they have family that has evacuated, Wiggins said.
“We want everybody home. We miss our folks,” he said.
Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405