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LaGrange, Troup County assisting Coweta, Heard Counties with tornado recovery efforts

The city of LaGrange and Troup County are assisting Coweta and Heard County after a tornado caused significant damage in both communities Thursday night into Friday morning.

Mayor Jim Thornton said a utility crew and LaGrange Fire Department crew were heading to Newnan to assist Friday morning. Thornton said he had been in contact with Newnan Mayor Keith Brady Friday, asking about other ways the city could help.

“We try to help any of our neighbors when they’re in need,” Thornton said. “And in this instance, we have the ability to help Newnan in a particular way because we’re both electric cities through [Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia]. That means we have some resources that they desperately need in a time like this. We help all other cities, regardless of whether they’re a MEAG city if they have a time of need, we can help, but particularly we have the ability to help Newnan because they are an electric city.”

Thornton said LaGrange sent five electric linemen with their trucks and equipment, a five-member tree crew, and one fire engine with a company of three firefighters.

“All of them have been deployed to Newnan and are following the city’s direction,” Thornton said.

Troup County is also sending one fire engine company with three firefighters, the Troup County Mobile Command Post, and one Troup County fire department officer to Coweta County Fairgrounds for the staging area for cleanup efforts. According to a press release from the county, the Mobile Command Post is currently in operation and the engine company is clearing trees and debris from roadways. The Troup County Fire Department Officer is assisting as requested by the Staging Area Incident Commander.

“Please keep the citizens of Newnan in your thoughts and prayers in light of last night’s severe weather damage,” said Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis.

Thursday was a day of significant, long-track tornadoes in Alabama, and at least two of those tornadoes made their way into Georgia, including the storm that impacted Heard County and Coweta County Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

“We are very fortunate that  … our MEAG family across the state, cities like Marietta, Griffin and LaGrange, show up and help us with this cleanup and we appreciate this very much,” Brady said at a press conference Thursday morning.

Troup County has also been asked to assist Heard County with clean-up. County Manager Eric Mosley said all public works crews were pulled off their jobs on Friday to assist in the efforts, and members of the parks and recreation department also took chainsaws to assist Heard County.

The Troup County Sheriff’s Office also sent a team of deputies to Coweta County, and the Troup County 911 staff assisted with call overflow from Coweta County early Friday morning.

At approximately 12:05 a.m., Troup County 911 operators began receiving calls from citizens in Coweta County while Coweta County’s 911 system was inundated with phone calls. According to the Troup County press release, citizens reported emergencies ranging from relatives trapped inside residences to trees down on houses. Troup County 911 staff relayed callers’ information to Coweta County so that assistance could be sent to locations with emergencies. Coweta County 911 and Troup County 911 serve as resources for one another during times of 911 call overloads in order to protect citizens and neighbors.

Altogether, Mosley estimated about 20 Troup County employees were assisting in storm cleanup between Coweta County and Heard County.

“Ultimately, we know when things get rough, it’s always great to be able to count on your neighbor, and we know that in the future Troup County will have a need at some point,” Mosley said. “We know it sure is great to have friends surround you.”

Thornton said he had not heard from Heard County, where the tornado reportedly caused damage around Franklin.

“We haven’t gotten any specific requests from Heard County, but certainly if there was something we could do to help them we would,” Thornton said.