2017-09-21 / Front Page

Workers and volunteers clean up after Irma

A fallen tree across power lines running down the Augusta Highway left residents without power until late last week, when Georgia Power workers began work to restore the area on Thursday. A fallen tree across power lines running down the Augusta Highway left residents without power until late last week, when Georgia Power workers began work to restore the area on Thursday. As the outer realm of hurricane Irma washed through Lincoln Coun­ty early last week, emergency and county personnel were at the ready for any situation that should arise in the wake of the storm that had already ravaged counties in Florida and parts of south Georgia.

“Obviously the damage assess­ment is ongoing. As of right now, we’ve only had a few reports of serious damages – less than 12 – but there may be hundreds of struc­tures with minor damages such as to shingles, or siding, that type of thing.” Office of Emergency Ser­vices Director Casey Broom said. “But, we knew going into this that it would be a utilities issue.”

A rough estimation assessed that 80-90 percent of the county had lost power by Monday night, and while several areas throughout had power restored within the next few hours or days, there was a small percentage of the county that was still without power until late last week.

“It’s truly remarkable that we had such a restless night on Monday, but by early the next morning our gro­cery store was open, and our local food vendors were open,” Broom stated. “And, there were no impass­able roads by that time – so we were blessed in many ways.”

With 40-50 mile-per-hour winds, workers responded to calls of over 40 downed trees in roadways and in other places, including volunteers, those with the public works depart­ment, and along with others who responded to similar calls through­out the storm.

“I can’t say enough about our road department that worked extreme hours – they worked hard,” Com­mission Chairman Walker Norman said. “We also want to thank the vol­unteer fire departments, they were called out by Director Broom to help. We had trees that were down, lines down, but really we couldn’t do anything else until the power company came.”

In the days leading up to Irma’s impact, Broom and several other officials were the constant recipients of updates and information in prepa­ration for possible destruction.

“We had several briefings leading up to this. I had two daily briefings with the National Weather Service, and county officials were also called in on this, but we met on Sunday with city and other county officials for a briefing before the storm hit,” Broom said.

“The fire chiefs were there, as well as the mayor [Henry Brown] and myself. [Public Works Direc­tor Roby] Seymour was there, and others such as the Sheriff’s Office representative Major [Jim] Wallin, the Chief of Police [Brandon Lively] was there – the people on the list for these sort of situations were all in attendance,” Norman added. “I want to thank Director Broom and all the OES personnel for all they did during [hurricane Irma]. Director Broom was kept very well informed by the people he answers to in these sorts of situations.”

Norman continued, “All the coun­ty departments came in together, and I think we didn’t have any really serious problems.

“Sheriff Sid Hatfield, Major Wal­lin, and their department also did an excellent job. They called in, I think, all of their personnel, and they told us that they were going to be stra­tegically located. They made four zones across the county and kept one deputy at each of the four zones,” the chairman said, including that deputies were positioned so that they could easily inform others of areas or people in need of assistance.

Thankfully, Broom reported, there were no fatalities, and one storm-related injury only. Another family, whose home was crushed by a tree, was also sheltered at a nearby church.

“We really want to thank Faith Community Church for being a good Samaritan to the community and housing that family,” Broom said.

Alleviating what could have been much more devastating situation, Broom added, “This was originally forecasted as a nighttime event, but it ended up going on in the daytime hours, which was another blessing.

“The resilience of our community astounds me – people are taking food to each other, they’re out there cutting trees up for each other, and just doing neighborly things for one another, which makes all the differ­ence,” Broom said. “This is also a great opportunity to reflect on what other families and individuals did to prepare for this difficult time.”

For a good source of emergency information and preparedness plans, according to the director, he recom­mended that the community do their research at http://ready.ga.gov.

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