Sumter County needs the help they're getting

March 2, 2007

Americus -- Help is pouring into south Georgia communities devastated by Thursday's storms. Sumter County is one of nine counties covered in a disaster declaration signed by Governor Sonny Perdue.

More than 20 law enforcement agencies, 10 EMS departments, and 10 fire departments rushed in to help. It's an overwhelming job, but people in Americus seem to be getting the help they need.

Day break in Americus revealed the massive cleanup ahead. Winds drove two by fours and glass right into concrete walls at Sumter Regional Hospital. Shattered glass, broken windows, and businesses and homes simply destroyed.

Early Friday morning help arrived. Governor Sonny Perdue said: "We've got facilities and assets from counties all across middle Georgia some as far away as Griffin that are here in Americus."

More than forty law enforcement and emergency response agencies converged in Americus to begin the cleanup. While the damage is great across the state,  "As of 9:00 today we already had documented over 500 home claims that have already been coming in and about 25 percent of those are uninhabitable," said John Oxendine,Insurance and Fire Commissioner.

So is the help being offered. "We're going to these homes that are uninhabitable and we're getting with their insurance company, getting them vouchers so they can find help."

Many still without power or food are being fed by the Red Cross.  "Anyone needing meals, food, water all of that is made available right here to them," said Leisa Cross. Help is available at the First Baptist Church's shelter and there are plans to expand if the demand grows.  "Once First Baptist fills up we'll move across to the Methodist church and then the Presbyterian."

"This community is strong its going to pick back up and the great thing about Georgians is the people from all over come together, and they're going to pick back up and do the best they can," Perdue said.

With those words of encouragement, the clean up continued, thanks to some help from their neighbors.

For questions about insurance or disaster assistance, you can contact Commissioner John Oxendine's office at 1-800-656-2298.

Also, Americus residents who need to apply for assistance from DFACS can go to either the First Baptist Church or First United Methodist Church.