LaGrange Utilities assists Blakely

Published 7:15 pm Monday, October 22, 2018

For residents in many parts of Georgia, Hurricane Michael seems like nothing but a distant memory, but in Blakely, a small city west of Albany, clean-up efforts are ongoing and LaGrange utility workers are still offering their assistance.

Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle and south Georgia earlier this month, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. One of the cities impacted was Blakely.

“Hurricane Michael dealt a devastating blow to the City of Blakely,” Blakely Mayor Anthony Howard said. “Virtually every street in the city was blocked by trees and debris. The city was completely without power for two days.”

Howard attributed the quick repair time to other utility crews who offered their assistance.

“With the help of several utility crews from outside the city we were able to successfully restore 75 percent of power in one week,” Howard said. “This was approximately twice as quick as we predicted prior to the storm. A lot of the credit goes to outstanding utility crews like the crew that came from LaGrange, Georgia, who worked from dawn to dusk seven days a week.”

Workers from LaGrange Utilities reported major damage to Blakely.

“I’ve worked several storms in my career, but I have never seen such mass destruction,” said Rodney Welborn, a LaGrange Utilitiy line crew foreman helping in Blakely. “Hurricane Michael was another Hurricane Opal. It is an honor for us to help restore power, the City of Blakely was turned upside down by Hurricane Michael.”

The City of LaGrange has offered utility workers to assist with restoring power following a number of natural disasters, and even before Hurricane Michael made landfall, the city was ready to send out line workers to help restore power to those affected by the storm.

“We are very proud of our electric employees for volunteering to help a neighboring utility following Hurricane Michael,” LaGrange Utilities Director Patrick Bowie said. “As small municipalities, we rely on joint action and mutual aid to restore service to our customers whenever there is a major storm event.  Our efforts are coordinated through Electric Cities of Georgia, and in the past we have sent crews as far away as Key West, Florida, and western Maryland.”

Howard offered his thanks to the hard work done by LaGrange Utility workers.

“The citizens of the City of Blakely truly appreciate the dedication and support of LaGrange, Georgia, and are extremely thankful for what their utility crew has done to start getting their lives back to normal,” Howard said.

Bubba Welborn, Johnny Blakley, Ben Braswell, Chase Kennedy, James Hembree, Marcus Hunt and Kyle Nixon are the LaGrange Utility workers assisting in Blakely.

According to a press release from the external affairs team for Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security, donations for those impacted by Hurricane Michael are now being coordinated through a multi-county conation warehouse in Donalsonville. The GEMA, Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are partnering on the project and are accepting the items that storm survivors say they need most. Those items include paper products, cleaning supplies, diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, non-perishable food items, non-refrigerated flavored drinks, pet food, feminine products, hygiene items and charcoal.

Terry Haight, disaster response coordinator for the Seventh-day Adventist Georgia-Cumberland Conference, is the point of contact for the donation warehouse in Donalsonville. If your organization is interested in donating, please contact Haight first to coordinate supply and drop-off logistics. Donations are being accepted at Cloverleaf Gin Warehouse, Unit 5, 3207 US Highway 84 in Donalsonville. The warehouse is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.