Lowndes Co. EMA releases update on hurricane relief
LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WALB) - Relief and recovery efforts have started in Lowndes County and the county’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has released some updates regarding the efforts.
Governor Brian Kemp has made the required request to President Joe Biden with regards to Lowndes County being declared a major disaster area, according to the Lowndes County EMA. The communities included in the request are Valdosta, Hahira, Lake Park, Remerton and Dasher. The agency currently does not know when the President will make a decision.
There is currently no need to report individual damage to the EMA. Damage assessment teams have spent the past three days cataloging damage reports to compile the information needed by both the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
A community-wide decision will be made as soon as the Lowndes County EMA is notified. Then, an online portal and Disaster Recovery Center will be set up for citizens to apply for assistance.
Regarding safety, the Lowndes County EMA encourages residents to practice chainsaw safety since most fatalities and injuries happen after severe weather events.
On Thursday, it was reported that a man was killed after a tree fell on him while he was cutting down a different tree. Another person was seriously injured in the same incident.
“When operating a chainsaw, it is important to wear proper protective clothing and glasses, choose the proper size of chainsaw to match the job, operate, adjust, and maintain the saw according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and check around the tree or pole for hazards, such as nails, power lines, or cables, before cutting,” the agency said in a statement.
Trees may continue to fall over the next several days, according to the Lowndes County EMA.
It is also important to not drive around or move barricades because roads, streets and bridges across the community have been damaged.
As of now, 35-40% of people in Lowndes County are without power. Power company personnel continue to work around the clock to restore power.
The agency is asking people to refrain from attempting to deal with utility lines themselves. Downed lines are very dangerous and should be considered live until addressed by power personnel.
The agency is stressing generator safety as many people in the affected areas are still using generators. Generators should be housed in a well-ventilated area, not in an enclosed area such as a garage, according to the agency.
“If using a generator, make sure your main breaker is turned off,” the agency said. “If someone has not turned the main breaker of the home or business off so that the location is isolated from the grid, the generator could send power beyond the location and injure or kill the utility worker trying to restore power.”
Debris removal contracts have been activated for people in the unincorporated areas of Lowndes County.
Residents in these areas should move debris to the right of way. The right of way will be cleared as quickly as possible. Do not place household garbage with yard debris.
People who live within city limits should contact their city for instructions on debris removal. City of Valdosta residents should make sure that yard debris is cut down to four-foot sections so that the city’s equipment can pick it up.
The agency is also clarifying that FEMA does not provide direct services to include debris removal. Tree and debris contractors are telling residents that FEMA is required to remove yard debris.
Yard debris will be removed by local government services regardless of whether Lowndes County is declared a major disaster area.
Damage and Repairs
Make sure that anyone working on structural damage to your property is a licensed contractor.
A licensed contractor will:
- Provide a copy of their occupational tax certificate or business license and proof of insurance\
- Provide a contract that outlines the work to be done and the cost and a time by which the work will be completed.
- Will not ask for payment in advance.
Make sure to contact your insurance agent for instructions on obtaining estimates.
On Thursday, the city of Valdosta and Lowndes County held a press conference to discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, as well as warn residents of scammers trying to take advantage of people impacted by the storm.
Criminal investigation teams from Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire, John King’s office, are in Lowndes County investigating reports related to price gouging and/or construction fraud. Click here for more information.
Contact the Crisis Cleanup hotline at 1(800) 451-1954 if you need assistance to clean up debris from private property.
People can also register to volunteer with Hurricane Idalia relief efforts in Lowndes County by calling the Lowndes County Emergency Operations Center from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at (229) 671-2490.
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