Locals step forward to help with disaster relief

Published 6:09 pm Friday, September 1, 2017

Even as water still floods the streets of Houston, residents of LaGrange are already pitching in to help with hurricane relief efforts.

A group from Jackson Heating and Air plans to travel to Texas on Monday with donations and equipment needed to provide air conditioning and power to a relief center. A group from the company drove over on Friday to begin providing assistance, but they hope to be able to deliver items such as water and personal hygiene items with the second truck.

“Our hope is that everyone would bring their donations by Monday morning, and we are going to have our big trailer in the parking lot right across the street from our office for everyone to drop off donations from 8 a.m. until noon on Monday,” Dale Jackson said. “We are going to leave right after that.”

The group from Jackson Heating and Air hopes to connect with a group focusing on individuals with special needs, so items like diapers for older children or adults are requested along with the other supplies.

“We are looking to focus mainly on cases of water, canned food in boxes, diapers and personal hygiene items in boxes,” Jackson said. “We are trying to maximize the amount of space in our trailer, so we don’t want a lot of loose items.”


Donations needed for weeks to come

After Monday, there will still be plenty of opportunities to support and assist survivors of Hurricane Harvey.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, as of Thursday many areas were still inaccessible, but more than 240 Red Cross and partner shelters had been set up in Texas. The shelters were housing an estimated 33,800 people. Six additional shelters were open in Louisiana serving about 450 people. More than 1,900,000 meals had been provided to the state of Texas to distribute to survivors from FEMA at the last count. Water, blankets and cots were also provided by the organization.

As was the case with other natural disasters like Katrina and Rita, donations will be needed for months to come, which is why Faith Baptist Church is accepting donations now through Sept. 16 of toiletries, diapers, flashlights, batteries, hand sanitizer, leather palmed black gloves, 33 gallon white trash bags, black sharpies, box fans, 25 foot extension cords and 2 gallon garden sprayers for disinfecting homes and businesses.

“We are trying to just help people put their lives back together, and to go in and begin to clean out houses and scrape the muck and the mud,” Senior Pastor Donald Yancey said. “That is what shovels and work gloves (are for). Those things are more to try to help people get their lives back together.”

The items requested by the church are based on recommendations by the Department of Homeland Security, and the date of the delivery was determined based on when initial rescue efforts should be complete.  The church is not looking for clothing donations at this time.

“What is on our list, are the things like spade shovels for cleaning up, sheetrock, things for getting up wet carpet, 2 gallon sprayers and Clorox and things for going in and disinfecting and getting things out,” Yancey said. “That is what they (Homeland Security) requested, and then we added water and baby diapers and things that will be beneficial.”

Faith Baptist has two trained disaster relief teams who hope to be assigned areas to assist with relief and cleanup efforts.

For residents who would like to drop off bottled water donations, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office will also be accepting donations of bottled water for hurricane victims for the first two weeks of this month. Donations will be accepted Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 130 Sam Walker Drive through Sept. 14 with the exception of Labor Day.

“There are organizations around the nation and the state of Georgia who are doing that (sending donations), and we just want to do our part,” Sgt. Stewart Smith said. “Collecting water is an essential need for those people down there, and for us that is the easiest thing that we can do. We are asking anyone in the community who can to chip in to bring that water to the sheriff’s office, and we’ve made arrangements to get that taken to Texas in the next couple of weeks.”

The bottled water will be taken to hurricane survivors with the other donations gathered at Faith Baptist in what the church hopes will be a full trailer.

“To be honest, I don’t know that one trailer will hold it, but that is okay,” Yancey said. “This is a particularly large trailer, and it is two stories, but we have access to get more trailers in here. However many we fill up will be leaving on Monday (Sept. 18). We will stop taking donations on (Sept.) 16 at 4 p.m., and we will use that final Saturday to get a count and get everything on the trailers and get them loaded up.”

Bottled water donations can be dropped off at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office through Sept. 14 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Donations for cleanup efforts and immediate needs can be dropped off at Faith Baptist Church now through the Sept. 16 Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.