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Seminole County unites to survive Hurricane Michael’s destruction

Massive recovery effort continues to grow

For assistance call the Help Hotline – 229-309-3982 and follow Seminole County EMA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and donalsonvillenews.com

It has been a week since Seminole County and southwest Georgia took a beating from Hurricane Michael, and for its citizens it has been a week of almost apocalyptic hardships. The storm’s powerful eye wall swept north-northeast through Seminole County — still as a Category 3 storm, with sustained winds up to 115 mph and gusts of up to 150 mph — delivering destruction in every square inch of the county. Hurricane Michael shocked this community with terrifying power, downing live oaks and pines and damaging hundreds of homes, uprooting acres of pecan trees and sweeping away the highly anticipated bountiful yields of this year’s harvest. The morning after the storm 100 percent of Seminole County residents were without electrical power because of snapped poles and thousands of trees being blown onto lines, and for the most part, every road in the county was blocked by fallen trees and/or debris.

The farms and every thing else took a severe beating. The damage is so widespread that the Georgia Agriculture Department estimates a $2 billion hit to the state’s economy. To recover, state officials and farmers and countless residents said federal assistance will be necessary.

Two bright spots in the past dark week have been the Seminole County people and  the countless Good Samaritans from out of town who have shown up to help. Neighbors have helped neighbors and strangers have become friends. Jo’s Family Restaurant in Donalsonville and Big Jim’s on Lake Seminole have prepared food for line crews, National Guard, recovery workers and anyone else who walked through the door. If they were hungry they were fed – period.

One week ago the material things in this entire community was torn a par. Today, neighbor is helping neighbor to put it all back together.

Sadly, Hurricane Michael claimed one Seminole County victim. Sarah Radney, 11, died of massive blunt force trauma as severe weather pummeled Southwest Georgia, according to Seminole County Coroner Chad Smith. EMA Director Travis Brooks confirmed the child died after a mobile carport was picked up by the wind, crashed through the roof and hit the girl on her head. Sarah, from Grady County, was here visiting family members.

Today, one week later, the sounds of roaring winds and rain have been replaced with the hum of portable generators and the squealing of chain saws across Seminole County as the recovery from Hurricane
Michael continues. Local officials say they are amazed at the progress of recovery since the storm hit Wednesday.

Three Notch Electric Membership Corporation and Georgia Power, with the assistance of hundreds of out of area linemen, DOT workers, National Guard, local farmers, GEMA representatives and volunteer and church groups, have worked around the clock for seven straight days to clear roadways and restore power. Georgia Power customers began to see power returning on Tuesday, October 16. Three Notch EMC is restoring power gradually; however, a large portion of the EMC’s transmission line  are in hard to access areas and are requiring more time and manpower.

At Wednesday’s Emergency Management meeting it was announced that tent cities were in process and  additional EMC crews were on the way.

As of Tuesday, October 16 the county’s nightly curfew shortened from midnight to 6 a.m.

Emergency Operations Command Centers are located at, 3041 Town & Country Rd. in Donalsonville and at Spring Creek Baptist Church, 2635 Ga. Hwy. 253 offering food ice, meals ready to eat (MRE), water, and tarps.

Ice is also available at the Iron City VFD.

WiFi hotspots are available in downtown Donalsonville at City Hall and at the Iron City Volunteer Fire Department.

The Seminole County Transfer Station, located at 6547 Hwy. 39, opened on Monday, October 15 and is accepting residential household garbage. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Garbage pickup resumed its normal schedule in Donalsonville and Iron City on Monday, October 15.

Per Georgia Forestry, no burn permits will be issued until further notice due to all resources being utilized in the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Southwest Georgia.  The only outside burning allowed at this time is for campfires and outdoor cooking.  Residents are requested to put yard debris on the road side of their property and not cover fire hydrants, ditches, or right-of-ways with storm debris.

Seminole County, Donalsonville, and Iron City require all debris removal companies to register with Seminole County EMA. There will be no cost to obtain a permit. A permitting process has been put in place to protect our community as well as legitimate companies doing business in Seminole County. A company MUST have a permit.

All tree surgeons and debris removal companies for hire must visit Donalsonville City Hall located at 127 E 2nd Street in Donalsonville to register their company. Valid photo identification and proof of insurance is required. A valid license issued by other government entities will be accepted. Approved permits must be displayed and visible on company vehicles.

All food service establishments must be inspected prior to reopening. Please contact the Seminole County Health Department for assistance, 229-495-6590.

For your safety and others working to restore power, you must turn off the main breaker in your home if using a generator. Electricity can back feed on the power line and create the potential for electrocution.

Generators should only be used outside your home. Use a power inlet box and transfer switch to connect to home wiring. Use extension cords to connect electrical devices directly to your generator. If you see a utility truck in your neighborhood, please turn off your generator so crews can work safely.

If your home was damaged by Hurricane Michael we ask that you provide the following information to assist with the damage assessment for Seminole County:

Your name/property owner name, address, contact number, photos of the damage to your home only, not other structures on your property (no more than four photos please).

Email the information to seminolegaema@gmail.com.

State Senator Dean Burke commented,, “As you know, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration, FEMA-4400-DR, for Seminole County, as well as most of Southwest Georgia, granting Public Assistance Categories A and B (debris removal and emergency protective measures).

Specifically, as to debris, the State is requesting through FEMA that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manage the debris clearance, movement, reduction and final disposition in Seminole County.  Due to the scope of the debris in your county, Governor Deal has decided the State will pay for the entirety of the non-federal share to help the most affected counties recover more quickly. The State’s commitment to paying the total non-federal share is for both Public Assistance Categories A and B.

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