Cleanup efforts continue throughout Bainbridge, Decatur County

Published 7:36 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2018


The City of Bainbridge, Decatur County and dozens of other agencies are continuing to put forth maximum effort to restore power, clean debris and remove trees and limbs from roads.

Restoration work began last Wednesday night after Hurricane Michael churned through as a Category 3 storm, bringing sustained winds up to 115 MPH and gusts of up 135 MPH. No injuries were reported in Decatur County. Seminole County reported a death.

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As of Tuesday evening, roughly 39 percent of Decatur County remained without power. Nobody had power immediately following the storm a week ago.

Decatur County EMA Director Charlie McCann said once the winds died down last Wednesday night, all workers and volunteers came together to get state routes open so resources could reach Bainbridge. According to McCann, the primary goal for him and his firemen was to clear roads, and they have been able to get most open with help from the state and power companies so resources from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other relief agencies could enter the county. Incident management teams from GEMA have been crucial in restoring road access and facilitating these resources, said McCann.

Roughly 500 power company crews are staged at the Decatur County Industrial Park and another 300 crews are at the Commodore Industrial Park. Some of the crews came straight from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and have fanned out to help Georgia Power, 3 Notch EMC and Grady EMC where needed throughout Decatur County.

Julie Harris, Executive Director of the Bainbridge Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city’s priority right now is clearing streets to help bus routes return to normal and allow for trash pickup to resume. The City of Bainbridge sewer system regained power Monday, allowing residents to flush normally.

City property such as the Earle May Boat Basin, Cheney Griffin Park, Hatcher Road and the Nature Trail will come secondary. Residents’ immediate needs are the main concern.

Harris wanted to remind everyone, however, to still not burn their trash, debris or trees and limbs. Fires like these have the potential to lose control and will take away manpower from other cleanup efforts. Instead, the City of Bainbridge is asking residents to cut their trees into small pieces or chunks and place them curbside where they will be picked up and removed.

Harris is continuing to ask all residents to follow the guidelines the city has put in place during this time and pointed out that the curfew is still in place until further notice from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Pete Stephens, Chairman of the Decatur Board of Commissioners, said he is left speechless with how everyone has come together and worked. He realized there were county employees whose homes were destroyed, but they were out working on other people’s homes and roads.

“This has affected every citizen in Decatur County. The workforce in our county has gone over and beyond what was expected of them,” Stephens said. “Our citizens are strong. They can deal with tough times. We just have to buckle down and deal with it, and we will.”

Even as the community buckles down, Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby said he doesn’t think any one of us will ever forget Oct. 10, 2018, and the incredible display of the community’s spirit.

“I am just really impressed with Bainbridge,” he said. “You probably see this everywhere this happens, but I know what I saw here. Just for a little while, we forgot about the nonsense. People helped their neighbors. I saw a community work.”