Georgia Today: Hurricane Idalia power outages; Kemp on Fani Willis; Georgia Power price increase
On the August 31st edition of Georgia Today: Thousands of South Georgians remain without power, though the coast was left largely unscathed in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia; Governor Brian Kemp addresses Republican criticism of Fulton County DA Fani Willis; And it looks like power bills for many Georgians are going up once again.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode: Thousands of South Georgians remain without power, though the coast was left largely unscathed in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia; Gov. Brian Kemp addresses Republican criticism of Fulton County DA Fani Willis; and it looks like power bills for many Georgians are going up once again. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: South Georgia utility companies are reporting about 15,000 power outages as of mid-afternoon today, after Hurricane Idalia slammed the region yesterday. Cook County Emergency Management director Johnny West says no injuries have been reported in the county.
Johnny West: Got about 15 houses that we know of this morning that have got trees on them. We lost one house to house fire yesterday due to the storm, whose getting into the recovery phase now.
Peter Biello: West says some residents could go without power for up to a week and some residents are also without running water. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says he's relieved the city sidestepped the worst of Idalia last night as the tropical storm veered further west than originally forecast.
Van Johnson: It's a beautiful day in Savannah, absolutely beautiful. We have had really no significant issues other than trees that are down around the city. Some very big trees, some very old trees. For us, obviously, this could have been a hell of a lot worse.
Peter Biello: Still, as of mid-afternoon today, more than 10,000 residents of Chatham County were without power.
Peter Biello: A Lowndes County man was killed yesterday, clearing fallen trees from a roadway. Fallen trees are just one of several hazards to be aware of in the wake of a storm, as GPB's Grant Blankenship reports.
Grant Blankenship: Idalia was still a hurricane when it passed over Valdosta in Lowndes County Wednesday, and tropical storm conditions lingered late, even while cities like Savannah prepared for the storm. Lowndes County public information officer Meghan Barwick says that meant even by early evening utility workers and others didn't know the exact extent of what they heard were widespread and often still active downed power lines. Barwick says those lines, plus scores of downed trees, are present dangers people must avoid during storm recovery.
Meghan Barwick: We are encouraging our residents to please, like begging them to please stay out of the roads unless it's an absolute emergency.
Grant Blankenship: So far, the only suspected daylight related deaths have been drivers on hazardous roads. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.
Peter Biello: Georgia Republicans are divided over calls to impeach the Fulton County prosecutor who brought charges against Donald Trump, in a video released yesterday. The former president praised a state senator from Northwest Georgia's Dade County. Trenton State Senator, Republican Colton Moore is calling for a special session of the state legislature to remove the prosecutor, Fani Willis. Governor Brian Kemp slammed the idea today as a distraction from Republicans talking about economic development and other more kitchen table issues that he says will win elections.
Brian Kemp: It's a grifter scam that somebody is doing to help them raise a few dollars into their campaign account.
Peter Biello: Special legislative sessions in Georgia are very rare, as GP's Donna Lowry reports.
Donna Lowry: Georgia can call a special legislative session in two ways: by governor or a 3/5 vote of the Georgia House and Senate. To get that, some Democrats would have to approve it. University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock says meeting outside regular sessions is unusual for Georgia's General Assembly.
Charles Bullock: Some other states, they're common. They happen every year. In Georgia, it's rare. I mean, the only time that you can be pretty certain that there will be a special session will be every ten years to redistrict the state. They simply don't happen that often.
Donna Lowry: In addition to redistricting, Georgia's special sessions have dealt with budget issues such as in 2018 to help fund Hurricane Michael relief efforts. For GPB News, I'm Donna Lowry in Atlanta.
Peter Biello: Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty today and waived his right to appear at a hearing next week in the case, accusing him and others of illegally trying to overturn the results of Georgia's 2020 election. Trump's decision to skip his arraignment means he won't have to show up at the Fulton County Courthouse next week, averting the drama that accompanied not guilty pleas in Trump's other criminal cases.
Peter Biello: Georgia Power customers could see their average monthly bills rise by about $9 to pay for new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. Under a settlement announced yesterday, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light spokesman Jay Horton says the company agreed to spare its customers $2.6 million of the cost of the new reactors.
Jay Horton: And the company also agreed to expand a popular bill relief program currently only available to eliminate group of income qualified seniors, pledging to add up to 96,000 new participants over the next three years.
Peter Biello: The state's Public Service Commission still has to approve the agreement.
Peter Biello: The University of West Georgia recently graduated its first class of law enforcement cadets. Members of the inaugural Academic Law Enforcement Training exchange class included UW students and cadets from the Villa Rica Police Department and the Coweta County Sheriff's Office. Upon completion, participants are deemed post certified officers, which is the basic qualification for anyone seeking to work in the field.
Peter Biello: Drugstores, supermarkets and convenience stores will start selling the opioid overdose, reversing drug Narcan starting next week. And it's now also available at the Georgia Capitol. GPB's Ellen Eldridge reports.
Ellen Eldridge: Substance use disorder is classified as a medical condition, just like heart disease. That's why Jeff Breedlove with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities says the state capitol now has overdose reversal kids in the building. Breedlove, who is also a recovery advocate, says he supports bringing Narcan boxes to as many public places as possible, including the Capitol.
Jeff Breedlove: One is this very public and it literally says overdose reversal kit. And it is designed to put into the consciousness of people in that building, the Gold Dome of Georgia, that 'Hey, this is just another medical disease.'
Ellen Eldridge: Breedlove says the boxes include instructions on how to use the Narcan nasal spray. For GPB news, I'm Ellen Eldridge.
Peter Biello: If you plan to squeeze in one last summer trip over the Labor Day weekend, expect lots of company. Officials at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport expect more than 1.7 million passengers to travel through the airport over the six-day holiday period that began today. And if you're hitting the road, expect to pay significantly more for gas than you did last year. Auto Club says the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Georgia today is $3.60. That's up nearly $0.23 from a year ago.
Peter Biello: In sports, Darius Vines pitched six strong innings in his major league debut last night, earning the win in the Braves 7 to 3 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Vines got called up earlier this week from triple-A Gwinnett and retired the first seven batters he faced. Overall, he allowed two runs on four hits and struck out five. His mother, Aretha Nunnery, spoke with Bally Sports from the stands as she watched the game. She described the moment her son told her he'd be making his major league debut.
Aretha Nunnery: After he told me, I was like in tears cause he just he deserves this. He worked so hard for this. And when he was about five years old, he was like, "Mom, I want to be a professional baseball player." And today we're here watching him.
Peter Biello: Vines was drafted by the Braves in the seventh round in 2019. Vines helped give the Braves rotation rest before starting a four-game series against the Dodgers tonight in Los Angeles. Spencer Strider is expected to get the start for the Braves.
Peter Biello: And in soccer, Luciano Acosta and Brandon Vasquez scored 5 minutes apart in the second half, and Cincinnati became the first team to clinch an MLS playoff spot after a 2 to 1 victory over Atlanta United last night. Atlanta midfielder Edwin Mosquera scored his first MLS goal in the 10th by volleying home a deflected cross at the penalty spot. Atlanta United now heads to Texas to face FC Dallas on Saturday.
That's all we've got for this edition of Georgia Today. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit GPB.org/news. And if you want to get the latest on the storm and its aftermath, go to GPB.org/storms. If you haven't subscribe to the podcast yet, now's a great time to do it. We'll be back in your feed tomorrow afternoon with all the latest Georgia headlines. And if you've got feedback, let us know. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.
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