Local 1st responders prepare for Irma

Published 10:48 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS —  Although some local stores ran out of water and gasoline earlier in the week and most local motels were booked, streets were crowded with traffic in Americus Friday afternoon with lots of Florida tags evident.
At a briefing for local emergency response agencies and others at the Sumter County Emergency Management Agency Friday, the situation with Hurricane Irma remained fluid. It was still unknown exactly which path the Category 4 hurricane might take, but weather officials predicted with some certainty that it would head north through Florida and Georgia and then head westerly into North Georgia.
Should this path continue the following conditions will prevail beginning as early as Sunday morning and continuing through Monday night. This area of South Georgia can expect between 3 and 5 inches of rainfall and 40-45 mph sustained winds, with gusts of up to 54 mph starting around 8 a.m. Monday and lasting until around 8 p.m. Monday. Widespread incidents of power outages and trees blown down are also predicted, if the storm continues on this course. Citizens are warned to tie down outside items such as yard furniture and grills.

There was no more water left on the shelves at Walmart Supercenter, Americus, on Wednesday.

There is also a greater risk of tornadoes east of I-75.
At around 8 a.m. Tuesday, the storm will be moving into Northwest Georgia, if it continues its track through Georgia.
Nigel Poole, Sumter County EMA director, said there are no shelters being opened in Sumter County, although an American Red Cross shelter designed to hold 1,000 people was opening in Cordele Friday night. Another Red Cross shelter was also to open in Columbus. Sumter County does have two emergency storm shelters, one located behind the Georgia State Patrol Post 10 in Americus on U.S. Highway 19 South, and the other located in the Human Services complex on U.S. Highway 19 North. Both of these shelters are designed to house people for short periods of time during a tornado. They are not designed for long-term sheltering.
Magnolia Manor was taking early measures Friday to evacuate its residents of Magnolia Manor’s Richmond Hill, St. Marys, and St. Simons Island campuses. Nursing Center residents at St. Simons Island were to evacuate Saturday morning.
Richmond Hill residents were to be evacuated to the Americus campus; St. Marys residents to the Moultrie campus; St. Simons Island to the Americus campus; and St. Simons Island Nursing center residents to the Americus, Columbus, and Buena Vista campuses. All will remain until weather conditions improve and it is safe to return.
Family members are being contacted by Magnolia Manor staff to provide details of the evacuation and where their loved one will be transported. Additional family member contact will be coordinated through Magnolia Manor of Americus at 229.924.9352, extension 4053. Additional public information will be published on the website at www.magnoliamanor.com and on its Facebook page.
With so many people already pouring into Sumter County from Florida and the East coast of Georgia, local motels were already full as of midweek. Americus Garden Inn still had vacancies as of Friday. The Windsor Hotel, Hampton Inn and Days Inn were full, as was the Plains Inn.
The RV park in Andersonville, as of Friday, had only a few spaces for evacuees and only offers 30 amp electrical service. For more information, call 229-924-2558 or 229-942-4752.
Friendship Camp in the Concord community on Ga. Highway 30 toward Buena Vista is housing evacuees due to Hurricane Irma. There is a need for some extra supplies: toilet paper, paper towels, 55-gallon trash bags, and bottled water. If any churches can help, they are asked to take these supplies to Friendship Camp as soon as possible. People are arriving daily and will be here for an unknown period of time. Friendship Camp does not know how many people will be housed but it is possible to max out its capacity of 160 plus more in its RV spots. Please direct all housing questions to Lance Fendley, Camp Manager at 229-886-9971, or contact Janet Stoops, ministry assistant at Friendship Baptist Association, at 229-937-2350.
Timber Creek Trails, 10 miles north of Americus, has two houses available for rent on 2,000-acre property. Both have three bedrooms, living room, two baths, full kitchen. In beds, they sleep six  and seven people, but could accommodate up to eight  or 10 if needed. Normal rental rate is $150 per night per house. Website is timbercreekga.com and  FB page is timbercreektrails@facebook.com oe call 478-960-5003. Cash or check only payment options.

This emergency shelter on U.S. Highway 19 South, just like the one on U.S. Highway 19 North, is designed to shelter people for short periods of time, during a tornado, not for hurricanes.

Special services available include freezer space to store breast milk for breastfeeding moms. For information, contact Chelsea Collins, caburnette09@yahoo.com or 229-942-6549.
All veterinary clinics in Americus have boarding available. Americus Veterinary Clinic also has space for four horses. For information, call 229-924-6146. Frog Pond Farm can offer stabling for equines (and offers riding lessons for all ages). If you would like more information, feel free to contact Dave Heiser 717-309-0404 or Faye Bierbower 717-364-6039.
The locals are welcoming evacuees with meals, treats and activities.
Anderson Station Restaurant at 107 E. Church St. in Andersonville is offering free ice cream cones to evacuees. If shelters open up, the restaurant will help feed those in need. For information, call 229-591-8023. The Drummer Boy Civil War Museum on East Church Street in Andersonville will offer a 25 percent discount on store items for all evacuees.
Calvary Episcopal Church, on South Lee Street, Americus, was serving breakfast at 9 a.m.) Saturday and lunch at noon Saturday and Sunday.  Sunday services are offered to guests at 10:30 a.m.. Calvary is asking for donations; for more information, call Father Jeff Wallace at 229-939-7259 or 843-421-0101. Cornerstone Church on Southland Road, Americus, will be having a fundraiser and will donate money to those in need. St. John’s Anglican Church, Southland Road, Americus, Is providing shelter for sister churches in areas impacted by Irma.
Koinonia Farm on Ga. Highway 49 South is open. The farm has U-Pick your own grapes. Tours and the showing of the Emmy Award-winning documentary about Koinonia can be arranged. The farm offers land to stroll and a library to peruse. Latest word is that some shelter is available. Visitors can go to their website or come on out, or call 229-938-0303 for more information.
Visit Wolf Creek Plantation Saturday for its first Harvest Festival & Grape Stomp from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. There will be fun for the whole family! Live music by Nick Alligood, face paintings, grape stomping, children’s activities, craft vendors, food vendors and more. Free admission, free tours and wine tastings.
Andersonville National Historic Site offers guided walks or talks (weather dependent) at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Also, the Junior Ranger program (self-guided kid’s adventure activity in which kids can earn their own Junior Ranger badge) is offered at any time during our museum hours of 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The park grounds are open from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. daily, and all activities are free.
At Jimmy Carter National Historic Site from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, visitors can experience the sights and sounds of a Plains High School day again! Meet in the auditorium for Chapel at 10 a.m. Classes will begin promptly after, and of course there will be recess. After class, enjoy fellowship with friends old and new or explore downtown Plains and the Boyhood Farm. This event is open to the public.
The SAM Shortline is running trains Saturday, Coach tickets are half-price by calling in advance 1-877-GA-RAILS.
Some educational facilities will be closed in anticipation of the rough weather.
While Georgia Southwestern State University cancelled its Saturday graduate classes as well as closing Monday and Tuesday, all units of GSW Dining Services (cafeteria, Chick-fil-A, Higher Grounds, the POD, etc.) will remain open for the convenience of campus residents and the community. The men’s soccer match at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at 3:30 remains on schedule, as does the corn hole tournament that begins at 2:30. Other information may be available from Josh Curtain at 229-931-2377.
While South Georgia Technical College was focusing on their 225 dorm residents on campus, the college will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. The closure impacts both the Americus and the Crisp County Center campuses as well as all adult education sites.
“Student, faculty, and staff safety is of the utmost concern,” said President John Watford, Ed.D. “No classes or events will be held during this time. Everyone is urged to exercise extreme caution to remain safe during this uncertain time. The dorms and the cafeteria will remain open to provide food and shelter for on-campus students. South Georgia Technical College will also serve as a staging center for utility crews should the need arise. Campus safety officers will be on duty even though the campus is closed and classes have been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.”
Sumter County Schools are to be closed on Monday. This includes all students, administrators, faculty and staff.
Southland Academy is closed on Monday.
Some government functions as well will be affected,
The City of Americus Municipal Court is canceled for Monday, Sept. 11. Call the Clerk of Court – Janet Shelley on Wednesday or Thursday (Sept. 13 & 14), to reschedule court cases, at 229-924-3677.

Mediacom has issued the following information on what to expected following a major storm.

In the event of a power outage or damage to its cable lines, high speed data, video and phone service may be interrupted. Immediately following the storm, the company has resources that will assess all of its cable lines, and begin work to restore services as quickly as possible.

Please note that following the storm, there may be instances where Mediacom cable systems are functioning; however, customers could be without service due to commercial power outages. Check with your local power company for electrical outages.

Customers should never attempt to climb poles or attempt repairs of downed cable lines as they risk severe injury or death, particularly since the cable lines often accompany electrical lines which carry high voltage.

To contact Mediacom with additional questions, check outage status, or to report a downed line, customers can visit the Mediacom website, download its MediacomConnect Mobile Care application from the Apple or Google Play Store, or call 1-855-633-4226. Customers who are enrolled in our SMS text service may text “Outage” to 33915 to check whether a known outage is affecting their area.

Local first responders remind citizens that in the event of a power outage, those needing oxygen should call 911.
More updates will be available at www.americustimesrecorder.com as the situation develops.