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Neighbors reach out in GA

Powerful tornadoes roared through Georgia.

BY HEATHER MOYER | COLQUITT, Ga. | April 1, 2005

"We expect to get more calls once the weather clears up a bit."

—Duren Williams

Neighbors are helping neighbors after powerful tornadoes roared through southwest Georgia.

Last week, twisters hit several small towns in Miller, Seminole and Wayne counties, killing one person and destroying more than 50 homes and damaging at least 100 others. The hardest hit communities are Donalsonville, Colquitt, and Screven.

With support from Lutheran Disaster Response and the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, the communities are forming interfaith teams to help people recover and rebuild.

“We’re just starting to get this rolling,” said the Rev. David Womack of the Miller County Interfaith Recovery Committee (MCIRC). “We’re now getting to the point where we’re trying to get the word out.”

Womack added that MCIRC could potentially expand to cover other nearby counties. The interfaith is recruiting cleanup volunteers. and will soon offer case management to affected families.

The recent spate of wet weather has hindered the cleanup process.

“We expect to get more calls once the weather clears up a bit,” explained Duren Williams, MCIRC’s volunteer coordinator. But that does not mean the group’s member churches haven’t been out cleaning up.

The community has united, Williams added, and most people appear to be emotionally taking the disaster in stride.

“People have done a tremendous job of helping each other so far,” said Williams. “Neighbors are coming to the aid of their neighbors and getting out there and working. But there is a lot that still needs to be done.”

The biggest needs right now for the counties include cleanup crews, food, building supplies and money. Donations are being received and managed by Adventist Disaster Services at a warehouse in Colquitt. Williams noted that Presbyterian Disaster Assistance also just sent in a donation to get the local interfaith team on its feet.

Womack explained that because the area is very rural, many farmers were affected. “Before farmers can do anything in their field, they have to clean up the debris,” he said.

MCIRC will focus on those who usually end up overlooked after a disaster, added Womack, who also pastors Bellview Freewill Baptist Church. “The biggest needs will really be financial ones. We’ll be dealing more with folks who have fallen through the cracks – those were not insured or who were underinsured. Some will need a little more help to get back on their feet.”

The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church is also helping form an interfaith group in Wayne County so that communities like Screven get recovery assistance. The Georgia chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (GAVOAD) is also working closely with responding organizations.

As rain continues this week in the state, disaster responders continue to watch for possible flooding this weekend around southern Georgia.

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More links on Tornadoes


Related Links:

South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Lutheran Disaster Response of Georgia

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