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IRMA STRIKES: Storm fells trees, leaves 100 Brundidge residents without power

An estimated 100 Brundidge residents in the Caldwell Subdivision were without electricity Monday night as wind from Tropical Storm Irma brought a limb down on a hard-to-reach power line.

The outage occurred around 11 a.m. Monday and affected all residents in the Caldwell Subdivision with the exception of the residents on Clayton Street. The downed line is just off Johnson Street and on the north side of Mims Creek.

Britt Thomas, city manager, said due to the location of the downed line and the wet conditions caused by the extended rain, it was not possible to get a bucket truck to the area to remove the limb.

“A four-wheeler will have to be used to get to the area and then a lineman will have to climb the pole to cut the tree limb off the line,” Thomas said on Monday. “Weather conditions would make any attempt to do so, extremely dangerous. There are other pines in the area and we couldn’t take a chance on a limb falling on the line while a lineman was working.”

Thomas expressed concern that the residents of the Caldwell Subdivision would be without electricity overnight. “But these linemen want to go home,” he said. “So, we’re not going to put them in a dangerous situation.”

Depending on weather conditions, Thomas said the line could be cleared and power back on during the morning hours today. However, he cautioned the safety of the employees of the city’s utility department comes first.

Brundidge wasn’t the only area affected by the storm, as high winds knocked down trees in Troy, Banks and Goshen as well, temporarily blocking some roads and causing isolated power outages.

Overall though, Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said the storm played out favorably compared to some of the other possibilities on the table Sunday.

“The worst case scenario would have been if the storm had stayed in the Gulf and hit the Big Bend of Florida as a Category 2 hurricane,” Jason Reeves said.

Instead, Irma made landfall in Florida Sunday and dragged over the mainland, weakening the storm’s intensity before it reached farther north on Monday and impacted Pike County.

As Pike was put under a Tropical Storm warning Sunday, residents braced for the worst.

Troy University had already cancelled Monday and Tuesday classes on Friday and, after the westward shift, both local school systems and Pike Liberal Arts Schools followed suit.

Residents filled up tanks and crowded local grocery stores, wiping out entire shelves of bread and stocking up on other nonperishable food items. Many businesses shut their doors for their day.

The Troy Recreation Center opened Sunday afternoon as a shelter for those in mobile homes or evacuees with no other place to stay and the Trojan Center opened as a shelter soon after.

Nell King of Bullock County was one of the residents that took shelter at the Recreation center, saying she’d rather come there where she wouldn’t be alone during the storm.

“My husband and I were married 61 years and he died in 2015,” King said. “So I just didn’t want to be alone in my house. And I’m so glad I came here- it’s the nicest place; it has been really hospitable.”

While there she met Tracy Schneck, who came to Troy from Denver a few years ago. A member of The Vine church, Schneck was called on to volunteer and she said she was happy to come and assist people.

Local church volunteers were in the kitchen, making plates for everyone with food donated from several local churches.

Douglas Howard, Heather Brantley and their six-month-old daughter Kayli Howard also sought shelter at the recreation center Sunday night to seek safety because their apartment complex is old and plywood is scattered around the property while it is being renovated. With such a young daughter, the couple thought it would be better to take refuge in the shelter.

Evacuees were also still in town Monday as the storm came for Pike County, but they were more concerned about their homes in Florida than they were of the local wind threat.

Despite a few power outages and fallen trees, structural damage in Pike County was minimal and evacuees will likely be heading back to their homes within the next few days.