Severe storms cause power outages and damage across SW Georgia

Published 5:09 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

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According to weather forecasting, southwest Georgia is in for a period of rough weather that will last into next week, with rain and thunderstorms predicted for every day. This past Wednesday saw Bainbridge and Decatur County under a tornado watch for part of the day, with conditions decreasing to severe thunderstorm warnings as the day went on. Even so, these storms downed multiple trees around the county, as well as the flagpole at the county courthouse, and caused power outages for many residents and businesses into Thursday. While crews worked to restore power, Bainbridge Public Safety officers took to directing traffic at intersections with no power for traffic lights. Both Winn-Dixie and Walmart were left without power, forcing the businesses to discard large quantities of refrigerated food.

Fred Rudbeck, area manager at Georgia Power’s Bainbridge office, spoke to the Post-Searchlight about the outages, which were scattered not just throughout Bainbridge, but the county and southwest Georgia as a whole. According to the Georgia Power outage map, there were over 50 sizable outage areas in the region on Thursday. Rudbeck stated that multiple work crews from out of town were being brought into Bainbridge to help as they finished up their assignments. “We thank you all for your patience and understanding,” Rudbeck said in a statement. “Just be weather aware, and keep safety in mind.” He encouraged people to consult the Georgia Power website for safety tips in events like these.

Some businesses that discarded refrigerated food, like Walmart and Winn-Dixie, drew criticism from the community for the perceived waste of food. Meredith Hurley, senior director of communications and community at Southeastern Grocers, parent company of Winn-Dixie, released a statement to the Post-Searchlight regarding this, saying, “Our top priority is the safety of our associates, customers and communities, and we disposed of the impacted food to avoid any health risks. We are committed to giving back to our communities and have a long history of donating product to neighbors, local charities and food banks. However, in this situation, any food items potentially compromised due to the power outage were disposed of in compliance with food safety regulations and out of an abundance of caution as we prioritize the safety of our customers and the communities we serve.” She concluded with, “While we understand the disappointment this may cause, donating potentially unsafe food could have adverse effects on individuals who rely on our products, and we remain committed to serving our Bainbridge community with excellence and upholding the highest standards of quality and safety.”

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Only time will tell if these weather conditions will persist. Rudbeck stated that Georgia power will be ready to mobilize if future outages occur. The Post-Searchlight will provide additional coverage over the coming days.