Officials provide startling stats from Albany's storm - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Officials provide startling stats from Albany's storm

Merry Acres ares by air (Source: Millie Foster) Merry Acres ares by air (Source: Millie Foster)
Ron Rowe (Source: WALB) Ron Rowe (Source: WALB)
County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas (Source: WALB) County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas (Source: WALB)
Resident Sarah Span (Source: WALB) Resident Sarah Span (Source: WALB)
Bethesda Church Pastor Samuel Sneed (Source: WALB) Bethesda Church Pastor Samuel Sneed (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

At a Thursday press conference to rally volunteers, Dougherty County's EMA Director Ron Rowe shared some startling facts about the storm that ripped across Albany the night of January 2.

Rowe said one-third of Dougherty County's 95,000 population was effected by the storms, and now there is a massive community effort in the works to help those that may need the most assistance.

Rowe said it will be hard for Albany to recover, with 32% of the population living in poverty.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said, as she has many times during the last week, how grateful she is that more people were not killed.

Straight line winds, with speeds up to 85-miles-per-hour, pulled 150-year-old trees out by the roots, snapped pine trees in half that landed on homes, and blew out much of the city's power. One woman died in a fire that night, when power lines landed on her home, setting it on fire.

County Chairman Chris Cohilas said his own home has five trees in it and described his Merry Acres neighborhood as being "virtually wiped out" with only four houses standing untouched.

Rowe said the storm was the second worst wind event in the city's history.

Albany's Assistant City Manager, Phil Roberson, who has been spearheading the utility reconstruction, said in his 40-year-career, he has "Never seen anything" like the widespread damage and "It will be a long and slow recovery."

East Albany's power is back on, but residents there said that most people haven't replenished the food that was spoiled in the days following the storm and they need food.

They also need a hand cleaning up after the storm, which ripped up large trees, some damaging homes there.

WALB visited the old base housing neighborhood, a place residents describe as a nice place to live, with lots of children.

But two residents described the horrific conditions in the days following the storm.

Burglaries kept people from wanting to leave their homes, food was spoiling and children were hungry.

One woman said that it was the efforts of Commissioner BJ Fletcher, who brought in donated food from restaurants, and a church that first got food into the neighborhood.

She also said when WALB started reporting on the lack of response in the area, more resources came in to help.

On Thursday, several residents said the spoiled food needs to be replaced, and people don't have money to pay for repairs.

"A lot of cleanup still needs to be done. Our neighborhood never looked like this, trees debris," said East Albany resident Sarah Span.

"It makes that type of situation even more complicated when you don't have the resources, and when you don't have the access to resources, such as insurance and other means. So, we are going to be out this weekend to try to assist those that need it the most. Not to say other areas don't need it, but give them a face that they know," said Bethesda Church Pastor Samuel Sneed. 

The community cleanup will be at the Bethesda Community Church on Owens Avenue on Saturday.

People are asked to be there by 10 a.m., and bring rakes, chainsaws, and other necessary equipment.

Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved. 

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