A powerful storm with strong straight-line winds caused considerable damage on the Lafayette Public Square Wednesday evening, and electric service was disrupted for many Tri-County EMC customers as a result of numerous violent lightning strikes.
Tri-County spokesman Jerry Wilmore said Thursday that customers on Bratton Avenue, Gailbraith Lane (off Hwy. 52-E), and out Ferguson Hill Road in Lafayette, and Red Boiling Springs customers in Cotton Hollow were without electricity for as long as three hours as repair crews worked to restore service.
On the Public Square, strong winds took an already damaged metal roof completely off the historic White Hotel building, sending large sections of the roof structure onto the roofs of nearby businesses, and across the facade of the hotel itself. The roof section dangling from the hotel front was caught by live power lines, which had to be disconnected from the pole at the Citizens Bank corner of the Square before a TCEMC truck with a bucket and lineman could disconnect the lines from a transformer in front of the Cash Express offices.
The storm, with heavy rains, high winds and many lightning strikes, hit the Lafayette area about 6 p.m. Electric service was returned to all affected customers before 9 p.m. that same evening. Only one side of the Public Square was without power, and none of the businesses were open at the time of the storm and power outage.
City Police blocked off the southwest side of the Public Square for about an hour as police, fire department and other emergency personnel cleared... debris from the road.
Considerable roof damaged was sustained by both the Cash Express building and by Macon Department Store. Both businesses also suffered interior damage from water pouring into the buildings from the punctured roof membranes.
No cost estimate of the damage was immediately available. Macon Department Store was temporarily closed for repairs, but the Cash Express offices were open for business Thursday.