March 11, 2007
Americus -- Sumter County officials say debris cleanup at the Hospital property is going faster than planned, and they're thanking several out of town volunteer contractors for that swift progress.
A Statesboro contractor organizes nearby companies to join him as he directs cleanup efforts throughout the Americus, a main focus being the hospital. Ellis Wood says he gathered 80 volunteers from several different companies and brought more than 50 pieces of heavy duty construction equipment to help clean up.
A convoy three miles long, of construction crews and contractors leave Bulloch County for a mission. One clear across the state, to help with disaster relief in Americus.
Ellis Wood commanded the operation and his crew finished what could have taken up to three weeks of work at Sumter Regional Hospital, within a weekend.
"The tragedy that occurred here could have occurred at our home, and we feel that we have a responsibility to use our resources to help these people," said volunteer contractor Ellis Wood.
Thousands of people left without their main place for healthcare. Wood focused much of his resources on hospital cleanup, clearing away an average 60 dump trucks full of debris an hour.
Thanks to all the volunteer contractors hospital clean up is going faster than expected. They've already put up posts and fencing to secure the area, once all the debris is removed.
The Sheriff says the extra help brings the county a step closer to getting the hospital out of the dumps.
"It's just humbling to see these people out here working trying to help folks. This is our focal point, our hospital. We got a large number of people not working now, and we've got to get them back on their feet," said Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith.
While there's no timeline for when construction will begin, it may be sooner than later thanks to the volunteers.
"It carries a lot of pyschological importance to try to get the hospital cleaned back up because it's such an important anchor to the community," said Wood.
A community ripped apart by a natural disaster, but coming back together because of the kindness of others.
Other areas the Bulloch County crews helped include subdivisions, a local park, and a landfill. They came to town Friday afternoon and left Sunday. Sumter County officials say their work is a huge help in getting the hospital rebuilt.
Inmate labor also helped with the cleanup at the hospital. Now that the debris is cleared, a fence will secure the perimeter and officials will begin assessing the structural damages.