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Sally updates: Fatal I-20 crash, school closures, flooding and more

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 6:00 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 3:01 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A fatal wreck, flooded and debris-strewn roadways, and weather warnings are greeting CSRA residents as now-downgraded Hurricane Sally moves through the region.

And due to the flooding, the Richmond County School System is sending students home early and keeping campuses closed Friday.

Fatal crash on Interstate 20

A tow truck driver was killed this morning on Interstate 20 at Cobham Road in McDuffie County.

He was trying to load a vehicle and was struck by another vehicle that left the scene, authorities said. Georgia State Patrol troopers were attempting to locate it.

The Georgia Department of Transportation reported that an eastbound lane of the interstate was closed for a time due to the accident.

School closures

The Richmond County School System announced that campuses were “experiencing a substantial impact from flooding.” As a result, the district planned to begin implementing an early release schedule at noon.

“There is already significant damage to many of our schools and it is best to make sure our students are not in schools that are unsafe,” the district said in a statement.

Schools will remain closed Friday for students and teachers.

What’s the forecast?

Most of the heavy rain has passed to our east but a few showers remain as Post-Tropical Cyclone Sally continues to move to the northeast.

For the afternoon expect a few light showers and maybe a rumble of thunder. Showers are still expected in the overnight but will be lighter and more scattered in nature. The chance for a few additional showers will continue tomorrow morning as well.

Flash-flood watches are in effect for most of the CSRA through 8 a.m. Friday.

Other developments

  • Widespread flooding of streets and yards was reported in areas that included Laney Walker Boulevard, Springwood Drive in the National Hills area, and the area of Wrightsboro Road and Valley Park Court.
  • A school bus slid off South Old Belair Road in Columbia County in an incident that happened before 7:30 a.m. Contacted a few minutes after it occurred, dispatchers characterized it as a minor incident, saying the bus remained upright. Witnesses said drainage ditches in the area of the curved roadway were full of water after a night of rain.
  • There were several reports of trees and branches falling into roadways and fender-bender crashes at several locations around Augusta and Aiken.
  • Georgia Power’s restoration efforts began overnight and continue today. The utility said its personnel were responding to about 675 cases of damage, resulting in about 28,000 customers without power as of 11 a.m. Outages are spread across the entire state, and the utility said crews will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power as weather conditions improve. The utility also said it was ready to respond with help after receiving requests from sister company Alabama Power.

Elsewhere

Moving at just 3 mph, or about as fast as a person can walk, the storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday close to Gulf Shores, Ala. It accelerated to a light jog as it battered the Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama, metropolitan areas encompassing nearly 1 million people.

As Sally continues to move slowly, forecasters officials expect storm surges as high as 7 feet in parts of the Southeast.

Here’s a look at the situation:

  • Charleston, S.C.: People prepared for the storm by sandbagging in an attempt to protect their businesses and homes from rising waters.
  • Florida Panhandle: The region was battered by the storm, which was so strong in Pensacola, it knocked a barge loose that smashed into a bridge, knocking out part of it. Then a construction crane mounted on the barge fell on the bridge. At least 377 people were rescued from flooded areas.
  • Atlanta: As Sally moved through the area, a tree fell on top of two home, trapping three people, one of whom died. Officials say one person was able to escape and another was rescued by firefighters.
  • Orange Beach, Ala.: The wind blew out the walls in one corner of a condominium building, exposing at least five floors. At least 50 people were rescued from flooded homes and taken to shelters, Mayor Tony Kennon said. At least one person died.

Things to know

  • Before a storm: Know your risks of flooding or storm surge and tropical storm or hurricane-strength winds. Check your emergency kit, unplug major appliances and charge cellphones in case you lose power. Make sure you have insurance policy numbers stored in your phone. If you’re planning to evacuate, assume you’re going to be away from your home longer than you expected.
  • During a storm: Take safe shelter inside a sturdy building away from windows and doors. Avoid contact with conductors of electricity – appliances, metal objects and water.
  • After a storm: Never touch any downed or low-hanging wire, including telephone or TV wires that touch a power line. Never pull tree limbs off of power lines yourself or enter areas with debris, downed trees or standing water as downed power lines may be buried in wreckage or submerged in water or mud.
This yard was flooded on the morning of Sept. 17, 2020, on Wimberly Drive off Peach Orchard Road.
This yard was flooded on the morning of Sept. 17, 2020, on Wimberly Drive off Peach Orchard Road.

The Associated Press and News 12′s Tradesha Woodard contributed to this report

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