Over 30,000 Bay County residents left without power after a possible tornado

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PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — Following early morning storms and a possible tornado, many residents are left without power.

Although Gulf Power is working on lines continuously throughout the day and even now in Bay County, be cautious as you drive through the city.

“Right now we are experiencing about seven thousand power outages for Panama City Beach,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon. “Probably about 20,000 in Bay County.”

Gulf Power officials said at 11 a.m. Saturday, more than 30,000 people were without electricity after severe weather swept across the area. A few hours later, there are less than 10,000 outages across the panhandle. Gulf Power said that will continue to drop as they work toward getting lights back on. 

Sheldon said everyone is doing their part.

“Gulf Power has been amazing,” said Sheldon. “They have already been out here, the crews are working on these down power lines.”

Panama City Beach Fire Chief Ray Morgan said it’s important to remember to keep your space as working crews mend power lines and street lights.

“We don’t want people to touch any down power lines or even get close to the transmission lines. You’ve got to stay at least 20 feet away,” said Chief Morgan.

Even though Gulf Power has disconnected power in the Bay County while they make repairs, there is still a significant amount of standing water. Chief Morgan said that creates a higher chance of back-feeding if you are near lines.

“The utility departments are already out clearing the streets. Police and fire have been doing an amazing job,” said Sheldon. “The whole team of Panama City Beach has really rallied together to make sure that we keep the community safe.”

Both city officials said if you do not need to be driving around, stay home and off the streets.

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