Recovering after Michael: Officials urge residents to rally together

DOCO Storm Briefing/Insurance Commissioner Q and A

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - On Thursday night, South Georgia leaders said neighbors need to rally together to feed the possible thousands who have been without food for days following Hurricane Michael.

And without the normal communication channels, the issue could turn dire.

Now, during this time of recovery, Dougherty County leaders said that getting adequate food to those who can’t leave their home is a main priority.

A disaster that should have left one community in complete despair, has only made it stronger.

“Neighbors coming together, pulling together, to help each other. Neighbors who don’t even know each other coming together,” said Randy Davis, a homeowner.

Davis said he was blessed his Albany home didn’t see much damage after Hurricane Michael. But his neighbor wasn’t as fortunate.

“Oh, Ms. Judy been my neighbor for a while now, and during the storm after Michael she had a big tree fall on her house,” said Davis.

And Davis didn’t hesitate.

“I checked on her about 11:30 that night and her window was busted in so we got that taken care of,” explained Davis.

And County and city officials said this neighborly support is the answer to a main concern of theirs; communication.

“We knew that was presenting a huge challenge to our community,” said County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas.

Those without power may not know where and when to get food and supplies. Which is why officials are urging you to continue checking on your neighbors. Communicating with them face to face in a time when phones and cable may be down.

“There is no reason during this time and this day and age why anyone should go hungry,” said Cohilas.

If you need any food, call 211.

That's a direct line to the central volunteer contact, the Community Organizations After Disaster.

Volunteers who will connect you with the various different resources in the county and city.

And, many are traveling to Southwest Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Michael, offering their tree and debris removal services.

But area leaders warn that you shouldn’t hire anyone you haven’t vetted.

Every contractor is required to register with the Business License Office on Pine Avenue.

The city issues bright, yellow placards for their windshields so you know what to look for when they pull up.

If you don't see the placard, do not hire them.

And never give any contractor money for work upfront.

“There are good contractors, there are bad contractors. We want all contractors to be held accountable back to this community for what they do and what they say in this community,” said Cohilas.

Volunteers should also register with the city before going out in the community.

The city is giving them pink place cards to put in their windshield.

If you plan on volunteering, go by the COAD office at 925 Pine Avenue to sign up.

Over a dozen insurance agencies are in town this week to help with storm recovery efforts.

Sixteen insurance companies are set up in the parking lot of Home Depot in Albany to assess storm damage before the next round of rain moves into the area.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said this will help you with the first step in filing a claim with your insurance company.

Who you file those claims with depends on what was damaged during the storm.

“It’s going to be covered by your home owner’s policy, and if it’s fallen on your vehicle, your auto policy, if you have full coverage. If you just have liability coverage, it’s going to be your loss sadly, but if you have full coverage, your automobile is going to be covered from that tree that’s fallen on it and hurt it,” said Hudgens.

Some crops could also be covered depending on what insurance you have.

If you lost cotton or peanut crops in the storm, Hudgens said insurance will cover that loss.

It's also important to note that you don't have to wait for your agent to survey the damage to secure leaky roofs.

Take a picture and put a tarp over the tree to help prevent any other damage.

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