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Power outage may last a while

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By Mike Wright

 Gadsden County residents used Friday’s blue skies to get their first real look at the damage caused by Hurricane Michael, while the entire county continued virtually without power.

“If you have a generator, you have power,” Quincy City Manager Jack McLean said.

The sheriff’s office lifted the 24-hour curfew at midday Friday, but initiated a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

There was good news. The Walmart in Quincy will be open Saturday and the Walgreen’s opened Friday night, county spokeswoman Olivia Smith said.

Any business opened did so by generators and it was uncertain when power would be restored.

Both Talquin Electric Cooperative and Quincy utilities receive their power from Duke Energy, and Duke was experiencing significant problems of its own from Hurricane Michael.

“They haven’t got us a schedule yet,” McLean said Friday. “They have a lot of damage.”

A message on the Talquin website said it expects to have the Duke transmission service restored by Saturday, which would then allow Talquin to begin restoring service to customers.

“We will also be able to start estimating general restoration times once we begin bringing the distribution system back up,” the message reads.

Friday brought several developments and updates, including:

* Water, ice and tarp distribution sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations: Gadsden County Jail in Quincy; Johnny Johnson Pavilion in Chattahoochee; Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee; Helen Franks Community Center in Gretna; Eugene Lamb Park in

Midway; Old Havana Elementary School in Havana; Greensboro Elementary School in Greensboro.

* It’s unknown yet when school will restart. Gadsden Schools Superintendent Roger Milton said several schools have roof damage and the biggest problem — like everywhere else — is lack of electricity. Even if the schools could function during the day with limited generator use, Milton said his concern is getting students to school from homes without power.

* About 60 people, half of them special-needs residents, remained sheltered Friday at Gadsden County High School. Milton said the American Red Cross was working to find an alternative shelter location by Saturday.

* Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sgt. Anglie Hightower said Friday that, while four deaths were reported during the hurricane, she couldn’t confirm they were all storm-related. She said bodies were sent to the medical examiner’s office for cause of death.

The office released the name of one victim: Steven Sweet, of Greensboro, who died Thursday when a tree fell onto his house.

Hightower said there were no reported injuries related to the storm.

*About 22,000 residents were serviced at the distribution stations on Friday, Smith said. Each resident received a case of water, a box of MREs if they were available, and a tarp. Some people asked for two tarps.

* Most main roads are now open, but smaller roads in rural areas or sidestreets may be still be blocked with debris.

* Nearly all the damage was caused by Michael’s hurricane-force winds blowing trees onto rooftops, McLean said.

“We have shingles pulled off roofs and windows blown out. But if I had to single out the most destructive thing from the wind, it’s been trees falling everywhere,” he said. “Our town has been devastated.”