ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There have already been 17 claims of price gouging sent to the Attorney General’s Office since Hurricane Michael hit Southwest Georgia.
But anyone caught raising prices unnecessarily and drastically could face fines of up to $15,000.
Scammers and con-artists are looking to profit off of all of the destruction Hurricane Michael brought to Southwest Georgia.
But Attorney General Chris Carr said that his office will prosecute violators to the highest degree.
Georgia is under a state of emergency until November 6. And during a declared state of emergency, the governor can prohibit the increase of prices on items he considers to be necessary to protect Georgians.
And price increases can only be done on these goods if they reflect new stock or transportation prices.
The Attorney General’s Office has received 17 complaints of price gouging so far on food, water, gas and lodging.
Carr urges you to contact his office if you feel prices in your area are unjustly being raised after the storm. He also wants residents to be aware of other scams you may be facing.
“Just infuriates me the most, here you have folks in times of trouble that are trying to rebuild themselves, and then somebody comes in acting like a charity,” said Carr.
Carr wants you to be on the lookout for fake charities who advertise in areas that have been hit by devastating natural disasters like Michael. He said do not donate to charities you have never heard of before, and to try to keep your donations to local charities as much as possible.
Carr also warns people not to hire any tree or debris removal companies you haven’t vetted. He said you should go online to the Georgia Better Business Bureau to read reviews on any tree and debris removal companies coming to the area.
Carr also said that you should never pay them before they do the job.
Officials are also urging you to check on your neighbors and friends, as many are going on their eighth day without power.
And the loss of power means many have been without hot meals since Hurricane Michael.
But, the issue now is communication.
Those who don’t have cable or access to internet can’t find out where community groups and city and county officials are giving out food and supplies.
There are also those who are elderly or housebound that can’t leave to get to the distribution centers.
Government officials need you to be active in your community.
If you can cook meals or take food from distribution centers to others, they urge you to do so, and soon.
“They were distributing food and people were running out of their homes to try and get food because they had not eaten in two to three days. That is inexcusable in this day and time for people to go hungry. I cannot stress that enough and we need to do what we can with the resources we have and get out there,” said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas.
If you know someone who needs assistance, you can call the Emergency Operations Center at (229) 483-6226.
If you can get to distribution centers, Albany’s Point of Distribution Center is serving about 7,500 of these people a day.
But that number is increasing by 1,000 everyday the POD is opened.
The City of Albany, the Albany Fire Department and the National Guard have partnered together to give out food, water, ice and tarps at the POD on Sylvester Road.
The main concern of city and county officials following the storm is getting residents their basic needs. Meaning making sure every resident has food and water, and eventually power.
Officials are concerned there are thousands out there who have not been adequately fed in days, since the hurricane.
“If you’ve already been to the POD, you may go back again to get more. We want to make sure you are able to have the things that you need and if you have neighbors in need who you know cannot make it to the point of distribution, you may pick up supplies for them. Just let the point of distribution workers know you are picking up for your neighborhood and they will get you supplies,” explained EMA Specialist Jenna Chang.
The Point of Distribution Center is located at 2424 Sylvster Road and it will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Thursday.
You must be in a car to pick up supplies.
The community members are also working to feed those in need.
Staff at Lowe’s provided hot meals, water and buckets for storm debris clean up on Wednesday.
Anyone was welcome to come out and take what they needed for themselves and their families.
For many, it was their first hot meal since the storm.
“Been without power since last Wednesday, of course, but we really appreciate all the help the community’s coming around giving people. It makes a big difference you know, so we really appreciate it,” said Oscar Brown, an Albany resident.
Lowe’s employees also want homeowners to know they have other supplies they’re offering, as well as staff who can help with any home repairs after the storm.
City officials are also continuing their efforts to restore power.
Emergency leaders said that Albany Utilities expects to be mostly done restoring power by sundown on Thursday.
But, they said it will take crews longer to restore power in areas with the most infrastructure damage from Hurricane Michael.
Just under 4,000 Albany Utilities customers are still without power after Hurricane Michael devastated the city just one week ago.
All 52 circuits have been re-energized, meaning good news for most residents.
Over 280 linemen are in Albany working every day straight since the storm to get power back to homeowners and businesses.
Npw, there have been many residents worried because they haven’t seen crews working in their areas.
But, City Manager Sharon Subadan said they have crews out in all parts of the city. She said you may not see anyone working directly in your backyard or neighborhood, but she said the crews are getting to the poles that seem to be the biggest source of outages in certain areas.
City officials said if you have a damaged weatherhead at your home or business, those will need to be fixed by electricians first, meaning you might be without power even if homes next to you do have power.
The curfew will continue Wednesday starting at midnight and last until 5 a.m. Thursday.
Albany Fire Chief Cedric Scott also wants to urge homeowners to check on their smoke detectors and make sure they are still working as your power is restored.