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With all of the destruction from Sunday’s tornado, Grady County has been the recipient of much assistance, both from within and without, beginning with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp who declared a State of Emergency in Grady and two other counties also hit by rough weather Sunday. The declaration deploys state assistance, such as Department of Transportation resources, to the affected counties, which includes Talbot and Harris.
Facing the daunting challenge of rebuilding destroyed sections of the City of Cairo’s electric grid, city utilities crews have benefited from assistance from other utilities this week.
Backing up the city has been personnel from Grady Electric Membership Corporation, and crews from the cities of Thomasville, Moultrie, Blakely, Albany, Adel, Fitzgerald and Whigham.
“The support we have received has been outstanding. Grady EMC was a tremendous help and responded quickly. Hurricane Michael destroyed more of our infrastructure, but this tornado was more destruction to structures within the city. We were extremely fortunate that there was no loss of life or significant injury as a result of this disaster,” Cairo city manager Chris Addleton said.
According to Grady EMC interim CEO John Long, 24 Grady EMC linemen and support personnel were dispatched Sunday night and worked through the night and into Monday assisting in the restoration efforts.
“We learned a lot from Hurricane Michael, most of all the importance of responding quickly with as many resources available as possible. Grady EMC is proud to support the city’s efforts and grateful that we could be a resource for them,” Long said.
Another valuable resource in the storm recovery has been the Grady County Volunteer Fire Department firefighters. VFD members worked along with Cairo Fire Department paid and volunteers and Community Service Department crews to clear city streets and open up driveways where possible in addition to other work.
“The community really pulls together in times like these. On behalf of the mayor and council, we thank all of the county volunteers for all of their hard work. They truly went beyond the call of duty,” Addleton said.
The city manager, as always, was complimentary of city employees from all departments. “We are fortunate to have an incredible team. It takes all of us working together to get things done and our team has stepped up to the challenge time and time again. I appreciate them all,” Addleton said.
Cairo Police Chief Keith Sandefur says that he received offers for assistance from practically every agency in the region. Additional law enforcement personnel were called in to assist the city police with traffic control and law enforcement Sunday night and officers have remained on hand through the week.
Agencies represented include the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Public Safety, Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles, Grady County Sheriff’s Office, Bainbridge Public Safety, Pelham Police Department, Whigham Police Department and officers from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.
“It would have been impossible to do what needed to be done without the assistance of these agencies and their personnel. We are grateful for their willingness to assist,” Chief Sandefur said.
Concerned about the safety of students who walk to schools, Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard asked if road crews could make sure GA 111 sidewalks were cleared of downed power lines and debris. Crews with Georgia DOT assured the superintendent they would start there Tuesday.
First responders and tornado victims have enjoyed the generosity of many businesses and individuals who have donated food. Some who have cooked or donated food, according to Cairo Fire Chief Bill Schafer, are: Grady County Baptist Association; Maryland’s Fried Chicken; Woodmen of the World; Pizza Hut; Home Slice pizza; Miss Shiver Queens; First Baptist Church and Pine Level Baptist Church.
“Rep. Darlene Taylor’s office has provided several dozens of donuts,” said Chief Schafer of the Cairo Fire Department. “Several people have dropped off numerous amounts of chips, water, granola bars and other items.”
Local emergency officials distributed tarps and cleaning supplies to tornado victims Monday. Residents who may need a tarp should call the Grady County Commission office at 229-377-1512.