190814 Power Lines down 4

Utility workers replace a power pole on Virginia Avenue that was snapped off when a tree was blown down by a storm Tuesday night, knocking out power in sections of Florence. [MATT MCKEAN/TIMESDAILY]

Utility crews in Colbert and Lauderdale counties worked through the night to replace utility poles and power lines that had been pulled down by trees as thunderstorms rolled through the region Tuesday night.

At the peak of Tuesday night's storm, there were 2,150 people without power across Lauderdale County, said Chip Rasch, director of engineering for the Florence Electricity Department, which provides electricity throughout the county.

As of about 10 a.m. Wednesday, Rasch said there were still 50 power outages in various parts of the county affecting 470 people. He said the damage was spread from "Waterloo to Grassy" and everywhere in between.

"The storm dropped down from north to south and the straight-line winds covered the entire county," Rasch said.

Falling trees took out at least five utility poles, and some outages were still being restored Wednesday morning due to the sheer number and a finite amount of workers.

"We haven't checked all the locations that have outages," Rasch said Wednesday.

Larger crews were divided into smaller two- and three-person crews to address as many outages as possible, he said. Outages that impacted the most people were addressed first. Larger crews were used in situations where poles had to be replaced.

Rasch said the remaining outages being repaired Wednesday were the kind that impact two or three homes.

In Muscle Shoals, Electricity Board General Manager Matt Bernauer said there were as many as 800 to 1,000 customers without power at one time.

"We got the majority of that back on in a couple of hours," Bernauer said. "We had a lot of wind and a lot of trees down."

While the damage was spread throughout the city, much of the Steenson Hollow area was without power for four hours.

"We had to put some lines back up there," Bernauer said. "That wind got wicked over here."

Power was out along Second Street and parts of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Muscle Shoals Reservation. Bernauer said three utility poles had to be replaced.

Tuscumbia Utilities General Manager Jeff McDonald said trees fell on power lines on Dickson Street and around East Ninth and South Washington streets. Lightning struck a utility pole on Willima F. Gardiner Drive and knocked out power to the Breckenridge and Sullivan Villa apartment complexes.

That outage impacted about 200 customers in the two complexes, McDonald said. All total, less than 500 customers were without power due to the storm. He said no power poles were damaged.

"Everyone was back on by about 2 a.m.," McDonald said. "We pretty much worked all night."

Sheffield Utilities General Manager Steve Hargrove said more than 500 people were without power, but most of it was restored by morning. A couple homes were still without power at 10 a.m, he said.

Hargrove said four power poles had to be replaced, and the damage extended from Cherokee to Leighton.

Hargrove, McDonald and Bernauer said they were unable to provide assistance to the Florence Electricity Department overnight because all their crews were busy repairing damage to their systems. They did offer to send some employees to Florence on Wednesday once they had gotten some rest.


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