Michael brings rain, little else to Hart County
The storm named Michael came and went overnight Wednesday with little impact on Hart County after thrashing the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon.
The storm claimed two lives on its destructive path from the Gulf of Mexico across the Southeast, bringing winds as high as 155 mph to places like Panama City Beach, Florida, which bore much of the brunt of the storm considered to be one of the most powerful to make landfall on the panhandle in recorded history.
It downgraded to a tropical storm over land and later to a tropical depression as it passed just south of Northeast Georgia and into the Carolinas, sparing the area of much of the damage seen in Southwest Georgia, Southeast Alabama and on the panhandle.
That is a blessing according to Terrell Partain, Hart County manager and director of the local Emergency Management Agency.
He reported that Hart County received mostly a rain event with some wind that downed only a few trees in the area. It is the second time in a month Partain said the area dodged a potentially game-changing bullet.
“I just hope our luck doesn’t run out,” Partain said.
Sheriff Mike Cleveland feels the same way.
“We were blessed,” he said Thursday morning.
First responders were set and ready to go with gas in chainsaws and trucks and crews prepared to deal with more widespread damage, Cleveland said.
By the time the clouds cleared and the sun was shining, Cleveland said a few minor automobile accidents were reported and a few trees were down, but no major damage had occurred.
There were roughly 100 power outages reported in Hart County, according to Angie Brown of Hart EMC. All were restored.
She also said two crews were heading out Thursday morning to assist with power restoration in the Planters EMC service area which serves Burke, Jenkins, Screven, Bulloch, Effingham, Emanuel and Richmond counties.
“You prepare for the worst and pray for the best. We got the best,” Cleveland said.
Flash flooding was a concern as well, but none was reported in Northeast Georgia to the National Weather Service in Greenville. The weather service showed that between 2-4 inches of rain fell throughout Hart County and the surrounding areas and that sustained winds blew at around 26 mph and gusted to as high as 36 mph at times. Sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are considered the threshold for a tropical storm.
Still, the threat of high winds and worse conditions prompted the Hart County Charter System to close school Thursday due to transportation concerns. The highest winds of the storm came in the early morning on Thursday.