The National Weather Service pretty much got it right when it came to the forecast for Hurricane Irma in our area Monday, a Hall County emergency official said Tuesday.
Appearing on WDUN's Morning Talk with Joel Williams, Hall County Emergency Management Director David Kimbrell said in addition to the 55 mph gusts, sustained winds in the area were around 35 mph during the height of the storm.
"Even though the storm did jockey back and forth east and west a little bit, we pretty much got exactly what the National Weather Service said we would get," Kimbrell said. "We were fortunate that the governor put us under a state of emergency quickly."
As officials assessed damage in the state, Kimbrell said the worst part of it covers the entire north/south stretch of Georgia to the west of Interstate 75. In Hall County, many of the downed trees and power lines are concentrated in the north and east parts of the county.
Kimbrell predicted Monday that damage from Irma in the county would primarily be wind-related. His prediction was correct.
"The Georgia Power representative that's in charge of our area said, 'This isn't a repair, it's basically a rebuild of the power grid.' They have that much damage," Kimbrell said.
As far as residents beginning to move around with improving weather conditions Tuesday, Kimbrell, along with other emergency officials, urged people to stay home if possible. The idea, he said, is to allow room on the roads for crews to remove trees and repair power grid damage.
Kimbrell also said homeowners with little chainsaw experience should leave tree removal to the professionals .
"So many times a tree has fallen and it's under some type of tension, and when you cut it, it'll kick back on you, so just being situationally aware of what's going on and especially if it's involved in a power line, make sure that the power is off by the power company telling you it's off," Kimbrell said.
During the height of the storm, Kimbrell said several people were in the American Red Cross Shelter at First Baptist Church on Green Street in Gainesville. As of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, there were no reports of storm-related injuries or deaths in the county.
As power companies begin the long process of repairing damage, Kimbrell said the county is in the process of officially assessing the damage. Officials will report those numbers to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and FEMA with hopes of getting some reimbursement money.
He said people can make those reports to the Hall County Emergency Operations Center by calling (770) 718-3300. Citizens can also report damage online.