Hur­ri­cane Help com­ing from Polk

Re­lief ef­forts com­ing from a va­ri­ety of sources to help Florida pan­han­dle, South Ge­or­gia re­cover from Michael’s path of de­struc­tion

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick kmyrick@polk­stan­dard­jour­

Hur­ri­cane sea­son isn’t tech­ni­cally over yet, but with cooler weather now fully in place it is more likely now the south won’t ex­pe­ri­ence the full fury of an­other storm hit­ting land.

At least that is the hope of those now in re­cov­ery mode along the Florida pan­han­dle and through­out South Ge­or­gia, which con­tin­ues to work to­ward the goal of get­ting back to nor­mal af­ter Hur­ri­cane Michael struck in Oc­to­ber.

Polk County is lend­ing their own sup­port in many ways to en­sure that needed sup­plies and peo­ple ready to work make their way to dis­as­ter zones as soon as pos­si­ble.

Among those who have al­ready been in the dis­as­ter zone are area EMTs and paramedics from Red­mond EMS, who were sent down by HCA Health­care to help with evac­u­a­tion ef­forts from Gulf Coast Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

Red­mond EMS Di­rec­tor Marty Robin­son said a group of 10 went in a first wave just days af­ter Hur­ri­cane Michael came and went, and crews have con­sis­tently been ro­tated down and back home to help trans­port peo­ple who are sick from the Panama City hos­pi­tal to other area fa­cil­i­ties.

He said be­cause road con­di­tions were through mid-Oc­to­ber dif­fi­cult, it took many hours each trip to trans­port peo­ple out of Gulf Coast Med­i­cal Cen­ter to other fa­cil­i­ties. It was dam­aged by the storm and es­sen­tially only could take emer­gency cases, which have to be trans­ferred else­where for more thor­ough care.

“We got that call around 7:30 on Thurs­day morn­ing af­ter the hur­ri­cane hit to get ready to move out,” Robin­son said. “Our first wave of crews left just af­ter lunch.”

They stayed busy for a long stretch of days to al­low first re­spon­ders and med­i­cal per­son­nel in Panama City to go home and check on their fam­i­lies and homes, Robin­son said.

He said the open­ing days in the area were “pretty rough” on all who lent sup­port. And in the open­ing 10 day stretch and those that have fol­lowed, sev­eral crews from the area have taken part in ef­forts to help move pa­tients from the hos­pi­tal.

Robin­son added that per­son­nel from HCA came from all over the coun­try to lend their help.

“I re­ally don’t know when it will be back to nor­mal. The area was re­ally dev­as­tated,” Robin­son said. “But to see peo­ple come to­gether like that, makes me proud to be part of the com­pany.”

Red­mond EMS isn’t the only ones who are tak­ing part in pro­vid­ing sup­port ei­ther.

Sev­eral lo­cal agen­cies, or­ga­ni­za­tions and the Polk School Dis­trict are all work­ing to gather do­na­tions of sup­plies to send down to dis­as­ter zones in south Ge­or­gia. The Depart­ment of Fam­ily and Chil­dren Ser­vices staff got do­na­tions to­gether and sent them along on Hal­loween.

The Polk County Cham­ber of Com­merce also got a do­na­tion to send along to sis­ter or­ga­ni­za­tions in south Ge­or­gia as well. Join­ing in that ef­fort that con­tin­ues through Fri­day is the Polk County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, who are send­ing “Hope from Polk” down to Early County in the com­ing days as well.

Chief Deputy Jonathan Black­mon said the ef­forts are re­peat­ing those taken up in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Maria in 2017, where not only did they ar­rive with re­lief sup­plies but a group who went around to help with re­cov­ery ef­forts.

“We’ve been no­ti­fied by sev­eral coun­ties in South Ge­or­gia that they need help,” Black­mon said. “Our goal is to head down to Early County and get tarps up on roofs and pro­vide clean­ing sup­plies to those af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Michael.”

Black­mon said that sev­eral lo­ca­tions are re­ceiv­ing do­na­tions at this time, which in­clude the Polk County Sher­iff’s Of­fice main lo­ca­tion and their satel­lite of­fice at Rock­mart City Hall, both lob­bies of the Polk County Court­houses in Cedar­town, the Polk County Ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices and Mary Miller’s State Farm In­surance Agency of­fice.

Those who want to make spe­cific do­na­tions can con­tact Black­mon at 678-350-4502.

Ef­forts are also un­der­way to col­lect sup­plies to send south­ward by the Polk School Dis­trict, who are en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents, teach­ers and par­ents to take part in ef­forts to help south­ern Ge­or­gia coun­ties as well.

They’ve taken up the call put out by State School Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Woods to pro­vide ev­ery­thing from di­a­pers and hy­giene prod­ucts to non-per­ish­able food and bot­tled wa­ter. Those want­ing more in­for­ma­tion about how to do­nate sup­plies via the schools can con­tact their lo­cal cam­puses or call the Cen­tral Of­fice at 770-7483821 for ad­di­tional as­sis­tance.

If sup­ply do­na­tions aren’t an op­tion, please con­sider giv­ing to a char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion of one’s choice on­line, or give to an or­ga­ni­za­tion like the Ge­or­gia Farm Bureau Foun­da­tion or Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse.

/ Con­trib­uted

A trio of Red­mond EMS am­bu­lances went down to help at Gulf Coast Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Panama City, Fla., fol­low­ing the dam­age in­flicted on the fa­cil­ity by the land­fall of Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

/ Con­trib­uted by Robin Forston

The Depart­ment of Fam­ily and Chil­drens Ser­vices of Polk and Har­al­son County put their ef­forts to­gether to pro­vide sup­plies to ar­eas still re­cov­er­ing from the dam­age caused by Hur­ri­cane Michael in early Oc­to­ber. Em­ploy­ees gath­ered up sup­plies to send to south­west Ge­or­gia and sent them off be­fore the end of the month.

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