Katrina is now a tropical depression, and destruction caused by the hurricane will leave a mark for years to come. Relief and restorations are slowly beginning to take form, and McDuffie County is joining in.
Thomson resident, Damon Davis, had planned to spend the next few weeks relaxing until he saw the devastation on television. Instead of relaxation, Mr. Davis is organizing a community donation effort for hurricane victims.
"I lost my job last Friday. I worked out at Thomson Oak Flooring, and I was the last one to leave. I was going to take a little time to relax and unwind before I began work again, but I saw all the devastation on television this morning, and I said I need to do something," Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Davis has coordinated with Thomson Mayor Bob Knox to make Thomson City Hall a drop-off point for donations. Also, Mr. Davis will have a trailer at the Bi-Lo parking lot from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, from 1-6 p.m. Sunday, and all day Monday to collect donations. Mr. Davis, who did the same thing for victims of hurricane Hugo, hopes to collect infant formula, sanitary hand wipes, disposable diapers, anti-bacterial soaps, candles, flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water and sports drinks.
"It's just a lot of those people down there, if they live on the beach or whatever, they've got a lot of money and they've got insurance," Mr. Davis said. "But you come back a half a mile and they don't. They're working people just like you and me. It's kind of devastating to see it. I saw it with Hugo, and I don't want to see it again."
Mr. Davis said he plans to leave Tuesday morning and take the items to Biloxi, Bay Saint Louis, and Pass Christian, Miss., where he has contacts. Mr. Davis said some people have asked him why he isn't going right away.
"Well, number one, you can't get down there, and a lot of people are buying stuff at first, but it's going to be gone by this weekend," he said.
Contact Damon Davis at (706)799-6413 for more information.
Mason Davis, Associational Missionary of the Kilpatrick Baptist Association, said his association is also having to wait to begin their relief efforts.
"Communications are still a problem right now, there are no phone lines to talk to people to find out what their needs are," Mr. Davis said. "Of course our disaster relief unit and our feeding unit are sitting in the yard ready to be deployed as soon as we are called upon, as soon as the Baptist Association decides wherever they need to go."
Mr. Davis said they are getting in contact with folks a little further north of the coast, because "loads of help is going to be flooding into the coastal area, but what about these people around Jackson that have needs.
"All we're doing at this point is taking monetary donations, directly made to the Kilpatrick Baptist Association for Katrina Disaster Relief," he said. "Then as we know more of the specific need, if it's monetary funds, we transfer it. If it's product, then we'll take that money and purchase the product. Some people's income has been taken away because where they work has been destroyed, so they need money."
The Kilpatrick Association is working directly with Baptist Associations in the affected areas to know what the needs are. In addition to donations, Mr. Davis said the Kilpatrick Association also cooperates with the Red Cross, helping feed people.
"So when you hear that Red Cross served so many hundred thousand meals, it was the Southern Baptists that cooked those meals," he said.
For restoration efforts, Jefferson Energy Cooperative sent out two of their usual eight crews, totaling 10 linemen who are employees of Jefferson Energy, to Central Electric Power Association in Carthage, Miss., to work on power outages.
William Irwin, manager of marketing, said the crews left early Tuesday morning. The company also released approximately three contract crews that worked for them to allow them to go to Mississippi.
"At this point, we don't know how long they'll be gone, it depends on what they find when they get there. So when they leave, they don't know when they'll be coming back," Mr. Irwin said of those who volunteered to go. "We always make sure that we leave enough behind to take care of our own customers here, but we felt we could spare these guys to provide as much assistance as we possibly can."
Georgia Power spokesperson Carol Boatright said they sent out 60-80 people from the east region, which includes McDuffie, Columbia, and Richmond Counties. Ms. Boatright said as of 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, Southern Company had almost 900,000 customers without power in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
"They'll be replacing poles that are broken or washed away, they'll be restringing wire, resetting transformers, actually in Mississippi they'll be rebuilding the system," Ms. Boatright said. "...They'll be there until the job gets done, and it sounds like it's getting worse before it gets better."