Stormy weather moving through the area Monday night caused numerous power outages in Upson, Pike and Talbot counties, knocked over trees, blew roofs off, and are being blamed for two traffic fatalities in Talbot and Pike.
Firefighters from all departments in Upson County were out during the storm handling calls of trees blocking roadways, trees falling on houses, power lines being down, along with routine emergency calls. The Thomaston Fire Department, along with the Rockhill, Lincoln Park, Northside, Thurston, Salem, and Yatesville volunteer fire department, responded to several reports of electrical fires from downed power lines, and 24 reports of trees blocking roadways. All, except a tree on Cotton Ave., were cleared Monday night.
Firefighters from Yatesville and Rockhill worked together to remove fallen trees on railroad tracks near Hwy 36 east from QuadGraphics to Willis Rd., which was blocking train traffic to QuadGraphics.
According to Rockhill firefighter Ben Dean, the firefighters were out surveying storm damage when they saw that a train had stopped short of hitting the tree. That’s when firefighters Billy Baggett, Billy Lee, Katie Lee, Alan Yarbarough, Dean, and others stopped to clear the tracks. In less than 10 minutes the first tree was clear; the firefighters continued down the rails clearing several other downed trees.
Northside VFD responded to a tree that fell on a mobile home on Manley Rd. The residents were evacuated and the property was taped off for safety. A barn was lost on Weems Rd.
A tree fell on the home of Donald Teal on Mountain Brook Road in Thomaston. Teal said he and his two sons were in the family van getting ready to head to their Boy Scout meeting when the tree fell on the back of the house. Teal’s wife was inside and said she heard a loud crash that shook the house, but she was uninjured. The tree damaged a bedroom and bathroom, but Teal said materials things are not important.
“The important thing was we were all alright.”
The storm produced straight line winds which were believed to have lifted the tin roof off of a large pole barn at the Thomaston poultry farm owned by Anthony and Marcus South. Pieces of the tin roof were found hundreds of feet away, but Anthony South said none of the tractors or other farm equipment stored under the barn were damaged.
Dispatchers at the 911 communications center were busy with calls all through the night with reports of trees down, power outages, and dispatching emergency personnel. From 5:30 p.m. to 11:59 p.m., the 911 dispatchers handled 359 incoming calls.
“It’s like a domino effect, said 911 director, Carl McKinney. He went on to comment about the work of county volunteer firefighters. “The volunteers do a tremendous service. They have always worked well together.”
McKinney also spoke highly of the job that 911 dispatchers did during the storm. “They did a really good job. That’s about 80 calls an hour.”
Many of the calls to 911 were from citizens with questions about power outages. McKinney went on to advise the public not to call 911 about power outages.
“In an emergency like Monday’s, please don’t tie up the 911 system with calls about electrical outages. Call EMC, Georgia Power, or the City of Thomaston Electric.”
First estimates of the damages are in the $250,000 range.
“So many people have lots of small damages,” said EMA Director, Martha Anne McCarty. “We dodged a bullet. Pike Co. got slammed.”
There was no tornado, only straight-line winds. Upson County had no fatalities; but fatalities were reported in Talbot and Pike counties. Both were single vehicle accidents that occurred during the storm.