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
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.
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.
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.