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Tuesday February 9th, 2016 11:44PM

Power outages in Georgia down to around 60,000

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- About 60,000 customers were still without power in Georgia by Saturday afternoon, as power crews reported significant progress in restoring electricity in hard-hit east Georgia after this week's ice storm.

Georgia Power reported that about 23,000 of its customers were without power late Saturday afternoon, with the vast majority of them in east Georgia.

The state's electric membership cooperatives, or EMCs, also had 37,500 of their customers without power statewide on Saturday.

Nearly a million homes and businesses in Georgia lost power at some point after a storm blanketed the region with snow and ice, the utility companies said.

In east Georgia, a state of emergency declaration was extended through Wednesday for 15 counties where severe storm damage is requiring ongoing response efforts, Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement. Those counties are Baldwin, Burke, Butts, Columbia, Emanuel, Hancock, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Johnson, Pike, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro and Washington.

In Richmond County, at least 200 homes sustained storm-related structural damage, most of it caused by falling trees, the governor's office reported.

Georgia Power shifted most of its available resources, about 2,500 personnel, to the Augusta area, company spokeswoman Amy Fink told The Augusta Chronicle.

"I feel confident in what they're doing out there," Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. "I wish we could have a crew in every neighborhood, but it's a question of Georgia Power's resources or our local resources to get crews out to clean up the city as well."

But the damage could have been far worse, the National Weather Service reported over the weekend in an assessment of the storm.

A "dry slot" caused precipitation to break up across much of the region late Wednesday morning through the afternoon.

"This dry slot was larger and further north than most computer forecasts were indicating previously," the weather service said in a summary of the storm. Had it been further south, the impact of freezing rain and snow would have been far worse, forecasters said.

Still, the storm coated areas near Atlanta with 1/4 of an inch of ice or more.

In areas along the Interstate 20 corridor east of Atlanta toward Augusta, ice measuring 3/4 of an inch was common, the weather service said.
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