A year after Hurricane Michael, Albany Technical College getting back to normal

Albany Tech continues to pick up the pieces 1 year after Hurricane Michael

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - One year after Hurricane Michael, the Carlton Construction Academy building at Albany Technical College (ATC) is still under construction.

But, one day at a time, they’re slowing getting back to normal.

Clifford Singleton has been teaching masonry at Albany Technical College for 10 years.

Clifford Singleton, ATC masonry instructor
Clifford Singleton, ATC masonry instructor (Source: WALB)

“It was a sad situation, I mean to see the roof peeled back," Singleton said.

But just one year ago, he saw the very thing he’s been working so hard at come crumbling down.

Drone footage of construction at Albany Technical College after Hurricane Michael

“I rolled out here to Albany Tech and I saw the disaster out here, and it almost was a crying moment to see something that you try to work for and build a program and see it get destructed like it,” Singleton said.

Dr. Anthony Parker, ATC president, said the construction building suffered structural damage from flying debris after Michael’s path of destruction.

Dr. Anthony Parker, ATC president
Dr. Anthony Parker, ATC president (Source: WALB)

“There had to be 500 holes in the roof from where debris flew all over the place,” Parker said.

Because of the damage to the roof, siding, equipment and materials, the award-winning program was relocated to the former Regional Youth Detention Center with limited resources and no air conditioning.

Kitras Thomas has finished the carpentry program and will be graduating in December from the masonry program. The hurricane hit in between graduating from one program and moving into the next.

Kitras Thomas, ATC student
Kitras Thomas, ATC student (Source: WALB)

"Stressful, it put a lot of stress on you and a lot of stress on your family,” Thomas said.

But Singleton worked through the stress and knew he could turn tragedy into a teaching moment because there’s a high demand for construction workers.

“So by looking at that disaster and talking to my students, and tell them all the time that this was a trade that will never go away,” Singleton said.

Said Parker: “Albany strong is more than a phrase, 2 tornadoes and a hurricane is quite the test of the character of the people that you work with and live with."

The program’s enrollment was cut in half, but through it all, Parker is hopeful.

“We’re going to get it right, and we’re going to start again bigger and better than we ever have,” he said.

The goal is to get back into their building by mid-October so they can have access to all of the equipment.

And, they hope to bring enrollment back up by January.

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