THOMASVILLE — The city might have been spared the onslaught the Florida Panhandle experienced as Hurricane Micheal slammed ashore Wednesday afternoon with 155 mph wind, but the storm left its mark on the community.
The storm left almost all Thomasville Utilities (TU) electricity customers in the dark. Of TU's 15,500 electric customers, 14,000 lost power.
On Thursday, 13,400 remained without electricity.
"Our plan is to make big gains," Chris White, assistant utilities superintendent, said Thursday morning.
Several people showed up at a city utilities building Thursday morning to ask when their lights would be back on. White told the residents it would be three to six days.
Both electric feeders to Archbold Medical Center were knocked out. The facility has been operating on a generator since Wednesday afternoon.
"Dozens and dozens" of power poles are down, White said, adding that four TU teams are taking the city by quadrants to assess damage.
Damage is being documented about fallen trees on streets, downed power lines and personal property damage, such as trees on houses and damaged roofs.
On Monday, lodging was reserved for mutual aid crews when the storm's ferocity began to be realized. Two crews, totaling 12 people, are here from Tennessee.
"We've got the call in for more," White said.
Pointing out the wide area impacted by Michael, he said many communities need help.
Traffic lights at many Thomasville intersections are not operative.
"Treat them as a four-way stop, and proceed carefully," White advised.
"By law, you should treat the intersection as a four-way stop," said Maj. Wade Glover, Thomasville Police Department public information officer. "We don't have enough officers to cover all intersections."
The sheriff's office is assisting at some intersections, Glover said.
"We will continue to monitor the situation," he said.
If major safety issues develop, law enforcement, possibly Georgia State Patrol, will go to the intersections, , Glover said.
Areas hardest hit by the hurricane were in the hospital vicinity. A fallen tree knocked over a transformer on Mimosa Drive behind the Archbold emergency room. Also hard-hit were East Clay Street, Glenwood Drive and MacIntyre Park.
"Mostly it is related to the power being out," White said.
Four of the city's nine substations are out, along with 20 of TU's 48 individual substation feeders.
Most cable TV, phones and Internet are down in Thomasville.
Regional broadband is out, primarily because of broken fiber between Thomasville and Camilla, Bainbridge, Sylvester and some customers in Thomas County.
The storm did not impact city water, sewer or natural gas.
White said it will be two to three days before debris is removed from city streets.
White did not escape Michael's wrath: He has no power at his Stewart Road home, and six trees are down in his yard. One of the trees took down the electric service wire to his home. An electrician will be required to restore power.
In Grady County, downed and power outages were the biggest problems, said Grady County Sheriff Harry Young.
Grady County EMC could not be reached for information about outages.
White has worked in utilities more than 30 years.
"This is the worst I've ever seen," he said.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820