‘No storm like this:’ Jefferson County begins cleanup as residents worry about power outages

Hardest hit counties struggle with widespread outages
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 8:14 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2023 at 10:39 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - By midday Thursday, the familiar Florida heat was already baking the volunteers stationed at the Monticello Public Library.

The group helping provide water, MREs, and other supplies to a growing line of cars, all filled with friends and neighbors forced to live without power.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, almost all of Jefferson County remained without power, joining Taylor, Madison, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie and Hamilton Counties.

Tri-County Electric and Duke Energy provide power for most residents in Jefferson, Madison and Taylor Counties.

A Tri-County spokesperson told WCTV they were telling customers to prepare for up to two weeks without power, but were hopeful lights would turn on much sooner.

Duke Energy announced Thursday evening plans to restore 95% of power to customers by 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mac McNeill said the cleanup effort would need to be extensive.

“There’s been no storm like this come through this area, so for sure this is probably the most damage we’ve ever seen,” he told WCTV.

Sallie Andrews lives off Ashville Highway. She rode out the storm in a shelter, but she was shocked at what she found at her home when she returned.

“When we came home that morning, the whole yard was nothing but trees, part of my house the tree is sticking inside the house,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. There are so many powerlines down. Hard to get through roads out there where we live.”

Andrews said she was grateful for the volunteers handing out supplies given the tough road ahead.

Shonteria Hills lives in Monticello, and showed up to the library hoping there was a place to cool off. But the library, like the rest of the town, was without power.

Hills said she was nervous how living without power would go.

“That’s going to be very tough. That’s going to be very tough living in an area where it is extremely hot as it is,” she said. “We’re already in the heat. No air. No food. We really don’t know how to survive this. We really need answers about when the power is going to be back on.”

Duke Energy is staging crews at the old Greyhound track north of Monticello. The company said they had 5,000 people working to restore the power across the state.

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