Who helps communities recover?
Published 8:00 am Sunday, June 25, 2023
Storms ravaged central and south Alabama this week and communities in Butler, Lowndes, and Crenshaw counties were hit with power outages, downed trees, flooding, and debris which littered yards and road rights-of-way.
During a storm and in the aftermath, citizens wait for power to be restored and do what they can to clean up. But many encounter situations too big to handle alone, and call 911 or ask neighbors for a hand while they pray and hope for responders to come with the equipment to handle the big jobs.
Some people assume county crews and career first responders – emergency management agencies, local law enforcement, utility linemen – are the ones tasked with storm recovery. And, they would be right, in part.
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Lowndes County road crews, and those in counties across central and south Alabama, sprang into action Thursday, traveling across the county to clear roadways. The county’s Emergency Management Director, Rodney Rudolph, and its Sheriff, Chris West, were there as well, assessing needs and coordinating services.
But one wonders how many people realize that, in many cases, volunteers are the first ones out to clear roads, remove obstructions, and supply aid after a disaster.
Volunteer fire departments, like Fort Deposit Volunteer Fire Department, were out Wednesday night cutting downed trees out of roadways, like Burgamy Swamp Road, just off U.S. Highway 97.
And later, Butler County volunteers came together this week to assist the Red Cross and Greenville McDonalds in distributing food to residents in Greenville and Georgiana who were still without power.
In January, when storms felled a tree onto the roof of Sassers Mill Assembly of God in Brantley, volunteers with the Brantley Volunteer Fire Department and the Bullock Community Volunteer Fire Department came out to the small rural church and removed the tree. Their efforts were a blessing to the church’s six members, since the small congregation lacks the funding needed to insure the building.
In many cases, volunteers who work other full-time jobs, respond at all hours of the day and night to help after disasters. Those volunteers conduct fundraisers to purchase much-needed equipment and receive no pay, other than ‘thank you,’ for their efforts.
Citizens become frustrated waiting on service restoration and debris removal assistance during storm recovery, but we hope communities will view recovery efforts in light of those who give of themselves to provide critical relief.
We wish to thank our first responders and volunteers for the valuable and selfless service they provide to communities.