South Georgia's ready to respond to Hurricane Gustav - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia's ready to respond to Hurricane Gustav

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 By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

August 29, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgia is expected to play an important role in the response to Hurricane Gustav.

Many companies have already begun to prep materials that would be sent to the gulf coast. Similar to when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast, Albany could play host to evacuees. Some organizations will be sending additional manpower into the affected areas. Some companies here in Georgia have already begun to ask for volunteers to help clean up from Gustav although the damage has yet to be seen. Many learned the lesson during Hurricane Katrina and they don't want to be caught unprepared a second time.

Power companies in Mississippi are already placing their orders for new south Georgia utility poles.

"I was at one customer and people were already call in, placing orders, the utility companies were stocking their inventories in preparation for the storm," said Mike Jones, Vice President of Balfour Pole Co.

In Mitchell County, Balfour Pole Company isn't rushing to strip more trees. A slow down in the housing industry already has created enough supply for whatever damage Gustav may leave behind.

"Most of the big treators where our poles go they've got a real good inventory so I think any major storm, getting poles is not going to be an issue and they're already preparing for it," said Jones.

The Southwest Georgia chapter of the America Red Cross has stocked their emergency response vehicles, but for right now volunteers are staying put as Hanna threatens the east coast. Georgia could become home to additional evacuees.

"If there is a very big evacuation from the gulf area and they fill up shelters in other states we could get overflow here then we would have volunteers available," said Mary McEwen, Executive Director Southwest Georgia American Red Cross.

Albany hotels are already getting calls from those who have been told their on evacuation standby.

"We've gotten a couple of calls from the Pensicola area, they're on standby right at the moment," said WillieMae Riggins of Comfort Suites-Merry Acres.

They're bracing for anything those displaced by the storm may need or bring.

"We have called one of the local veterinarians that's on Dawson Road to accomodate any guests that have pets," said Riggins.

Bush Animal Clinic on Dawson Road has agreed to help accommodate evacuees with pets staying at the Comfort Suites.

The American Red Cross has also set up their Safe and Well Website. It allows family to keep in contact through the Red Cross if phone lines and other forms of communication are down. You can already register your family and each Red Cross Shelter will have a computer with internet access to reach the web page. The website is www.redcross.org.

Georgia Power said it's too soon to know how many crews they'll send out of state, but they expect to send supplies and additional manpower to their sister companies that include Alabama Power, Mississippi Power and Gulf Power.

During Hurricane Katrina they sent 2,000 employees to the gulf coast.

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