University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is aiding in relief efforts in multiple southwest Georgia communities that were impacted by a deadly weekend of inclement weather.
Andrea Scarrow, UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences program development coordinator for the Southwest District, said that those displaced or coping with property damage can find disaster recovery tips and resources at www.extension.uga.edu/environment/disasters . The link provides assistance to those who are trying to recover and rebuild after storm damage that resulted from tornadoes, hail, damaging winds and widespread flooding.
“UGA Cooperative Extension has many resources to help those who have been stricken by the damaging storms in southwest Georgia. With prolonged outages, consumers are often concerned about the safety of food stored in refrigerators and freezers. Whether the need is flood cleanup or financial considerations, Extension offers valuable, research-based information to support a community recovering from disaster,” Scarrow said. “Southwest District Extension offices are ready to help their clients with questions related to the safety of food, water, home and family.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency declaration on Monday, Jan. 23, for 16 south Georgia counties: Atkinson, Baker, Berrien, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Dougherty, Lowndes, Mitchell, Thomas, Turner, Wilcox and Worth.
Dougherty County, still reeling from a storm on Jan. 2, was dealt another blow this past weekend. A tornado ripped through east Albany, leaving at least four people dead and many more without homes.
“I would say that a large majority of residents in Dougherty County have been impacted by both of these storms,” said Dougherty County Extension Coordinator James Morgan. “While the first storm appeared to mainly impact the city, this past weekend impacted the county.”
According to a press release issued by the Dougherty County Emergency Management Agency, officials estimate more than $100 million in losses following the Jan. 2 storms and EF1 tornado on Sunday that left 164,500 cubic tons of tree and yard debris. Thousands of businesses and homes are without power.
The UGA Dougherty County Extension office is a drop-off location for donations. Morgan said there is a growing need for clothes, baby food, diapers, toiletries, shoes and socks.
In response to the needs of Albany residents, UGA Extension Southwest District 4-H members are planning a canned food drive during their Junior/Senior District Project Achievement event at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia, from Feb. 3-5.
Another hard-hit area is Cook County, where a tornado struck early Sunday morning, killing seven. It also destroyed homes, turned irrigation pivots on end and dumped grain bins in the middle of fields, according to Cook County Extension Coordinator Tucker Price.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Price said.
According to Worth County Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Blake Crabtree, some residents in Worth County are unable to leave their homes because of downed power lines. As of late Monday afternoon, more than 6,000 homes, covered by Mitchell EMC in Worth, Dougherty and Mitchell counties, are without power.
In response, the Worth County Extension office is accepting toiletries and water to distribute to shelters that are housing displaced residents.
“This is a difficult time for the communities of south Georgia. People have lost loved ones, homes and, for some, their livelihoods. Being part of Extension, it’s our duty to provide assistance and be a resource on which our residents can call,” Crabtree said.
Neighboring Extension offices are accepting donations to aid in the relief efforts of those impacted by this weekend’s storms. Baker County Extension is accepting water, nonperishable food items, clothes for all ages, hygiene items, first aid items, blankets, jackets, pillows, baby items, batteries, flashlights and pet items.
Those who wish to donate should contact their local UGA Extension agent.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)