Gov. Deal: Irma recovery efforts will be slow, entire state affected

Image 1 of 30

More than one million people remain without power in Georgia Tuesday morning after Irma hit the state as a deadly tropical storm Monday.

App users: View full article here

During a press conference Tuesday morning, Governor Nathan Deal said the entire state was affected by Irma's damaging winds and heavy rain--an occurrence unlike the state has ever experienced before. As a result, Deal said recovery efforts will be slow due to the vast amount of Georgia territories affected.

The governor said he requested additional post-storm assistance earlier Tuesday morning.

He also urged Irma evacuees in Georgia to remain in place until their local officials authorize their reentry into their residential areas. Before that occurs, Deal said it's critical that bridge and road inspections are conducted to ensure the public's safety.

According to Georgia Power, 3,400 workers are responding to the outages, working to get power restored as quickly as possible.

Irma was downgraded late Monday night to a tropical depression, but while its strength has been diminished, the path of destruction is only now being fully recognized in Florida and Georgia.

Officials said the storm has caused 43 deaths, including two in Georgia. Both of the victims died when trees fell on top of them in metro Atlanta. A third victim in Worth County originally thought to have been killed by Irma was later determined to have died of a heart attack. According to Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby, the man was on top of his home doing some repair work when the medical emergency happened.

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office has identified one of the victims as Nancy Eason, the wife of former Cumming Police Chief Michael Eason. Mrs. Eason was killed when a tree crashed down on her vehicle during the heaviest point of the storm for Forsyth County Monday evening. Authorities told FOX 5 she was killed in her driveway near Shadburn Road.

In Sandy Springs, police said a man in his 50s was confirmed dead after a massive tree fell on his home along Hardeman Road.

Emergency crews at the scene said they were forced to evacuate the area due to concerns over the structural integrity of the home.

Earlier in the day, a 62-year-old southwest Georgia man had a heart attack and died after climbing a ladder to try to secure the roof above his tractor-trailer. John Kline was found under debris on the roof of his shed in Worth County, where winds topped 40 mph (65 kph), sheriff's spokeswoman Kannetha Clem said. His wife had called 911, saying he'd had a heart attack.

County Coroner John Johnson said Kline suffered from chronic heart disease and believes the man's death was not storm-related.

Images of what the storm left behind were shared with the FOX 5 Storm Team.

A FOX 5 viewer captured a tree falling down in front of their home in the Oakhurst neighborhood. The video shows a newly downed tree along McKoy Street which brought down power lines. Those charged lines can be seen causing sparking and a small fire.

In Gwinnett County, a tree pinned a man and trapped his brother inside his mobile home at the Inman Mobile Home Park located in the 700 block of Athens Highway near Loganville. Firefighters said they had to use airbags to free the man. He was taken to Eastside Medical Center in Snellville to be checked out.

The winds didn't just bring trees down on homes, but also on busy highways. Interstate 20 was shut down in Rockdale County several times Monday afternoon because of trees crashing down on the pavement, causing problems for drivers.

The high winds and wet roads were a bad mix for at least one tractor trailer along Interstate 285 and Chamblee Tucker Road. FOX 5 spotted what appeared to be a truck on the edge of the highway with its cab on the road below. No word from officials on injuries.

Tuesday morning, storm debris remained on many metro Atlanta roadways. Gusty winds were also lingering, and because of this, many metro Atlanta school districts have canceled classes again Tuesday because of the strong winds.

MORE: Schools closed again Tuesday after Irma

South Georgia really took a beating from Irma, too.

FOX 5's Paul Milliken assessed the damage in Lowndes County, where storm debris could be seen everywhere. At one point, a tree split in half and came crashing through the front porch of a home where about 20 people were inside. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

Storm-related debris also covered many roads in Albany, where FOX 5's Marissa Mitchell said winds gained strength throughout the day Monday.

Dougherty County officials urged people to seek shelter in Albany and surrounding areas before Irma.
Some 450 people hunkered down inside the Albany Civic Center, which served as a Red Cross Shelter. Many surrounding churches also opened their doors to families in need of a safe place.

MORE: Irma rips through Albany

Communities along the Georgia coast were seeing extensive flooding from Tropical Storm Irma.

Irma's storm surge pushed water ashore at the high tide Monday afternoon, and heavy rainfall made the flooding even worse. On Tybee Island east of Savannah, Hollard Zellers saw waist-deep water in the street as he went to fetch a kayak.

"In the street right now, the water is knee-to-waist deep," Zeller said.

About 3,000 people live on Tybee Island, which is Georgia's largest public beach. City manager Shawn Gillen said the waters seemed to be receding quickly, but most of the island appeared to have some level of flooding and water was in many homes.

Storm surge also sent flood waters into downtown St. Marys just north of the Georgia-Florida line. St. Marys police Lt. Shannon Brock said piers and boat docks were heavily damaged and many boats sunk.

Georgia Power said they assembled one of the largest storm responses ever to deal with Irma.

TRACKING IRMA: Click here for the latest on Irma

The Associated Press contributed to this report.