Storm surge leaves roads blocked, thousands without power

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

A storm system raged through central and south Alabama late Wednesday afternoon leaving thousands, 79,727 statewide, without power y 7 p.m. Downed trees blocked countless roadways during the early evening. 

“Thankfully no one is hurt,” said Crenshaw County EMA Director Elliot Jones. “But we have trees down everywhere and thousands of people without power. We are still getting reports and gathering information.”

Jones cautioned all residents to stay off the roadways until daylight. 

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“You could run up on a downed power line and not even know it in the dark,” Jones said. 

Sheriff Chris West said trees blocked roads throughout Lowndes County too, including County Road 45, Golson Road, Alabama Highway 185, U.S. Highway 31 at American Colloid, Freedom Road, Red Eagle Drive, County Road 26 at Tyson Road, Alabama Hwy 21 at LakeWood Drive, County Road 13, Atchinson Road. West added there were also reports of a traffic accident resulting in a tree falling on a vehicle at County Road 9 at Double Church Road.

Emergency management personnel and utilities took to social media to spread the word about conditions.

“We have widespread outages,” said Christi Scruggs, communications director for Pioneer Electric Cooperative. “About 80% of members are without power. We are trying to keep Facebook updated with information.”

At 7:30 p.m. each county in the tri county areas reported thousands without power – 7,386 in Butler County, 4,788 in Lowndes County, and 5,359 in Crenshaw County. 

Pioneer reported widespread outages across Butler, Lowndes, Dallas, and Wilcox including loss of transmission service to four substations. 

“The outages are affecting approximately 7,000 members,” Scruggs said. “Crews are out assessing damage and will work through the night to restore power. 

At around 6 p.m., Alabama Power representative Michael Jordan said nearly 39,000 of the utility’s customers were without power.

“At this time, there are approximately 38,700 Alabama Power customers without service in central Alabama as a result of severe weather,” Jordan said.  “Alabama Power personnel are actively assessing the extent of damage and working to restore service as it is safe to do so.”

According to Jordan, 3,900 Lowndes County customers and 3,500 Butler County residents were without power.

Scruggs said the potential for severe weather remains and urged residents to stay weather-aware and have a reliable means of receiving weather alerts.

Jordan said residents can observe critical safety measure to ensure their wellbeing:

  • Stay away from downed lines. Do not drive over lines or under low-hanging lines. Always assume power lines are energized.
  • Keep children and pets away from downed lines.
  • Stay clear of areas with fallen trees or limbs where downed lines may be hidden.
  • Exercise caution near chain link fences. Dangerous lines may touch the metal.
  • Avoid stepping in puddles and standing water after a storm as they may be touching hidden, downed power lines and be electrified.
  • DO NOT attempt to remove tree limbs or any debris yourself. Call the power utility servicing the area or alert local law enforcement.

Due to weather and road conditions, deliveries of The Lowndes Signal and The Luverne Journal are delayed until officials deem roadways safe to travel.