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No injuries but storm's effects remain
Cooling shelter to open today
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Cleanup from a line of storms that swept through Effingham County and the Coastal Empire on Sunday night continued throughout Monday.

Effingham County was hit with a severe thunderstorm in several areas throughout the night, causing debris on roadways and power outages.  Georgia Power has estimated that 12,000 Effingham County customers were without power from downed power lines, and crews worked throughout the day to have those services reconnected.

Georgia Power expects to have power restored by 6 p.m. today to 90 percent of those who lost power because of the storm. Power should be back by 9 p.m. for all those whose homes can receive power, according to Georgia Power spokesperson Lynn Wallace. Homes that had their ability to receive damaged should have that serviced by an electrician, Wallace said.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, there were approximately 10,000 people still without power in Effingham County. Georgia Power crews were working 190 different events, Wallace said, and 65,000 people across the state lost power.

"We’re bringing in crews from Jacksonville (Fla.), Alabama and Mississippi," she said.

Winds of 70 mph were reported to the National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C., according to NWS meteorologist Douglas Berry, and a shed was damaged. Wind gusts of 60 mph were reported in Stillwell. There were at least four trees down in Rincon and multiple trees down in Guyton.

"Wind was the main factor in Effingham," Berry said.

The storm’s impacts reached across the county. Power outages were reported along Ebenezer Road, Boaen Road, Shirley Drive, throughout Guyton, Eden and Lorenzo Hurst Road. A power line also was reported down across Log Landing Road, and power outages were reported on Courthouse Road and along Highway 21 north of Tusculum Road.

Trees also were reported down throughout the county and trees were reported to be "snapped in half like tooth picks" in Shawnee.

A homeowner on Skinner Bay said she was told by Georgia Power to leave their residence because of hot power lines down across their house.

Highway 17 at Clark Roadwas closed for several hours because of trees and power lines in the road. It was reopened to traffic shortly before 1 p.m. Monday.

No serious injuries were reported during the storms.

The storm system originally formed in the Midwest and isolated thunderstorms organized in the South Carolina upstate and midlands. They developed what is called a cold pool, where cold air is pushed out and helps the storm systems move south.

"We had a pretty strong squall line," Berry said. "It swept down the entire Southeast region. It caused widespread damage."

Berry said there were no reports of tornadoes. There were reports of hail, particularly in South Carolina.

The Effingham County Emergency Management Agency, in cooperation with the American Red Cross and the Effingham County Board of Education, has opened a cooling shelter at the Effingham County High School. The cooling shelter will be operational from noon until 6 p.m. today due to the overall power outages in Effingham County, coupled with the expected rising temperatures.  

"It allows families to come out of the weather," said Mark Hunt of the Red Cross.

Unlike shelters, cooling stations are open only during the day, so people whose air conditioning isn’t working because there is no power can find a cool place.

"They come during the heat of the day, and then they go home," Hunt said.

Any citizen with special needs or request is encouraged to call the Effingham County Emergency Operations Center at 754-8205 or the Emergency Management Agency director at 754-8200.

A Red Cross emergency response vehicle was loaded with water and snacks for anyone using the cooling station.

"We’re prepared to assist them as much as we can," Hunt said.

"We’re prepared to be here as long we need to be," he said.

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office received a very heavy call volume during the storm. Several deputies who were off were called in to assist. ECSO also received assistance from the Georgia State Patrol, Rincon Police Department, Department of Natural Recourses, all area fire departments and Georgia Power.

"We appreciate everyone’s time and patience," Wallace said. "We’re looking to bring back the power as quickly and safely as possible."