Andalusia volunteers assist in Bainbridge disaster relief

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2018

By Michele Gene Gerlach

The day after Hurricane Michael moved through, Janet and Toby Atkinson of Andalusia drove to Bainbridge to get a first-hand look at the damage.

Mrs. Atkinson, a Bainbridge native, had spoken with her brother, but wanted to see her parents’ home for herself, as Jack and Joyce Leverett were out of town. They also delivered some basic supplies.

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As the couple drove back to Andalusia later in the day, they changed their weekend plans.

“We were just gonna go hang out in Auburn Saturday,” Toby Atkinson said. “But after we saw the damage, it was like, how could we in good conscience do that?”

Instead, they got on the phone, and started rounding people up. A group of men from their church, First United Methodist of Andalusia, agreed to go, as did two couples who just heard about the trip and wanted to help. Soon, they had 10 people lined up to join them, as well as two tractors and several chainsaws.

As word spread of the couple’s plans, friends and neighbors in Andalusia started making contributions.

“Supplies just keep appearing at my house,” Mrs. Atkinson said. “It was heart warming to see what people would bring over a 12-hour period.”

Mrs. Atkinson packed bread, peanut butter, tuna and other non-perishables.

“So many people donated water, food, supplies,” she said Monday. “We gave some out and left the rest with a friend that is passing it out.”

Carol Mullis was among the volunteers.

“We had Janet as our lead person, and she had the places for us to go,” Carol Mullis said. “You need a tractor with an operator, and two or three chainsaws to work with the tractor, and a couple of people to drag limbs.”

Mullis said those they helped were very appreciative.

Toby Atkinson said he has volunteered for similar trips before.

“The hard part is lining up the work,” he said. “Janet knew the territory, and was on the phone finding out who needed help. It worked out so well, we told a group that was going to Lynn Haven (Tuesday), you need to make sure you have a runner. “

In addition to the Atkinsons and Mullis, the group included Harold Burnham, John Roach, Terry Pickard, Jody Lassiter, Jason Thrower, Travis and Jessica Golden, Samantha and Jamie Meredith and Toby and Janet Atkinson.