BALDWIN -- Gov. Nathan Deal visited with state and local officials and members of the media Thursday morning at the Habersham County Airport near Baldwin after a helicopter tour of Irma damage in Northeast Georgia.
"I saw that there was an extreme amount of damage in certain areas," Deal said. "It appears to be in patches. The areas that were the hardest hit were Mt. Airy and part of the Demorest area is what we saw."
Deal acknowledged the thousands of people coping with ongoing power, Internet and cable outages, saying both Georgia Power Co. and EMCs are continuing to bring in additional crews to help with restoration of electricity.
"That is the biggest problem that we have is the outages of power and inability in some cases to get traffic through because downed power lines still exist," Deal said.
One such area is Dooley Road near Hollywood in Habersham County, where both ways out from homes on the road are blocked by downed power lines and debris.
Deal said he knows it's frustrating being without electricity, particularly for an extended period.
"Being without all those things that we sometimes take for granted makes you feel very lonesome, makes you feel very isolated," Deal said.
One positive that has come out of Irma is people opening their hearts and homes to those in need.
"It's nice in times like this to have communities such as the ones we have here in Georgia who are neighbors reaching out to neighbors, taking in people that they may not even know and inviting them to come and stay in their home until they can return to their own," Deal said.
Asked for a possible dollar estimate on Irma-related damage in North Georgia or the state as a whole, Deal said, "It's way too early for us to know that, but it is in the process of being done."
Deal spoke to a group of about 60 officials from Banks, Habersham and White counties, including state and local elected leaders, law enforcement personnel and emergency management professionals.
Also present were representatives of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.