Officials reflect upon Matthew evacuee response -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Officials reflect upon Matthew evacuee response

Six shelters operated in the county (Source:WALB) Six shelters operated in the county (Source:WALB)
Around 1200 people stayed at the temporary locations (Source:WALB) Around 1200 people stayed at the temporary locations (Source:WALB)
Jason Jones, EMA Director (Source:WALB) Jason Jones, EMA Director (Source:WALB)

All the Red Cross shelters in Southwest Georgia are closed and many evacuees have gone home.

Efforts in Tift County were both focused on responding to the coast and sheltering those in-need. 

Community members stepped up to feed total strangers as Hurricane Matthew swept across Coastal Georgia.

Now, emergency managers are getting a better idea of just how big their response was.

"There were an untold number of folks that were in hotel rooms or other areas that chose not to go to shelters," Jason Jones, the Director of the Tift County Emergency Management Agency, said.  "We had several thousand. I think that would be a safe estimate in Tift County."

Around 1200 of those evacuees, many coming from the Brunswick area, stayed at one of six shelters in the county. Three were run by the Red Cross, while the other half were operated by good samaritans.

Now that the flood of evacuees has trickled away, officials are reflecting upon their response identifying high and low points in the process.

"We can use that to improve our plans in the future," Jones said. "That's invaluable. It's one thing to do an exercise, but nothing takes the place of the real thing."

Jones said the agency plans to work closer with good samaritan shelters in the future to ensure special needs, including medical ones, can be met by the pop-up facilities.

Jones said he's extremely thankful for those shelters and everyone in the community who came together to welcome their visitors when they needed it most.

He adds that the Red Cross and businesses contributed quite a bit. So, the financial burden on the county wasn't too bad.

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