Irwin EMC restores power to 2,000 plus on Wednesday

Irwin EMC restores power to 2,000 plus on Wednesday
Several crews are scattered throughout Ben Hill County. (Source: WALB)
Several crews are scattered throughout Ben Hill County. (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

IRWIN CO., GA (WALB) - Thousands of people in South Georgia are still living in the dark. Many lost power on Monday and are anxiously waiting for a glimpse of light.

Crews are making progress in parts of Irwin, Ben Hill and Turner counties.

That's where Irwin EMC does most of its work.

On Wednesday, crews were able to restore power to about 2,000 people, but there are still about 3,000 without power in their coverage area.

"You'd never think it would happen at home, but the devastation is widespread here and it's hard to soak up," said Irwin EMC Lineman Joey Emmons.

For Emmons, the past few days have been nothing but busy, with less than six hours of sleep in 48 hours. But he said it's worth it.

"You gotta love what you do," Emmons said with a smile.

Since it was safe to go out on Monday afternoon, Irwin EMC crews have been on the streets, fixing one pole, one fuse at a time.

"We had a lot of trees down," said Irwin EMC Construction manager Keith Barfield. "This was a different type of storm."

He said he's been with the company for more than 20 years. The last time he said he saw something that knocked out as much power as this was in 1993.

He said his crews have been trying their best to work as fast as possible.

"Bad thing about this storm is a lot of the contractors and other crews were already out in Texas wrapping up with Hurricane Harvey," explained Barfield.

He said before this storm came he was making calls to places like Oklahoma and Maryland to try and get crews, but resources were already exhausted.

On Wednesday, crews from Cobb and Troupe counties came to help Irwin EMC. People from Kentucky are expected to come Thursday morning.

As far as how operations to restore power, crews started with the main lines, which are mostly three phase lines. Those have the greatest impact towards restoring multiple homes. He said after those lines are fixed, crews can go back and start working on smaller outages.

Barfield said it's very common to see one house with power and the one next door without.

"It's a similar set up as even in your house and your breaker box," explained Barfield. "If one breaker trips and you have got your lights off in the living room but the light in the kitchen may be on."

Barfield said he knows it's hard to be patient. Many of his linemen don't have power at their own homes, but they are keeping high spirits.

"We've got a lot of good men with a lot of experience on the lines," said Barfield.

His linemen were working on Wednesday with bright smiles.

"There's no doubt this is a good job," said Emmons. "It's tough at times, but you know you soak it up and come on. It's what America needs."

Irwin EMC serves people in most of Irwin, Ben Hill and Turner counties as well as parts of Tift, Berrien and Wilcox.

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