Georgia governor, state officials provide update on Irma recovery effort

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A downed tree took down power lines across the state Monday due to Irma's tropical storm force winds / Claudia Coco (WGXA)

ATLANTA, Ga. (WGXA) -- Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and other state officials held a press conference Tuesday morning on the recovery effort following Tropical Storm Irma.

After Tropical Storm Irma ripped through state Monday, more than a million Georgians were left without power into Tuesday morning.

With high winds continuing into Monday night in parts of the state, some crews were unable to begin recovery work until Tuesday. Even still, trees and other debris continued to block roadways into the late morning hours of Tuesday, preventing crews from being able to reach downed power lines in some cases.

Deal said on Tuesday that Irma was a different kind of natural disaster that the state has not seen before. He said unlike storm in the past, the damage caused by Irma is spread throughout the entire state.

He said that requests for federal aid have been made to assist with the recovery process.

Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Home Bryson asked that all of those who came to the state from Florida stay where they are until they are given the all clear to leave. He said officials are checking bridges and roads to ensure that the designated re-entry routes are safe before giving the authorization.

Bryson also said that due to power outages and the sheer number of people that are expected on the roads throughout the re-entry process, fuel will be an issue.

Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power, the largest power provider in the state said that since last night, power to about 20 percent of those who experienced outages has been restored.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Georgia Power website showed about 775,000 customers across the state remaining without power.

Dennis Chastain, the CEO of Georgia EMC, the second largest power provider in the state, said that all 41 of the local EMCs are affected by outages as a result of the storm with about 426,000 customers remaining without power as of Tuesday morning.

He said that crews are working diligently to restore power as safely as possible.

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said that the department is working alongside Georgia Power and EMC crews to get power restored and roads cleared.

McMurry said that as of Tuesday morning, about 250 traffic signals are out across the state, with about 150 signal heads missing or being damaged and needing replacing.

He said that all interstates across Georgia are open, but that two cable bridges, the Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savannah and the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick are not passable. '

Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Deal lifted the mandatory evacuation order previously put in place for six coastal Georgia counties.