By Cindy Jo Ayers
Gilchrist County is responding in a big way after hurricane Michael came through the panhandle of Florida and Georgia last week.
With some 400,000 people without power after the hurricane hit last week, area power companies sent crews of local linemen into the heart of the devastation last week. Duke Energy, Central Florida Electric, Pike and GRU all sent crews. It wasn’t long before the linemen’s first hand accounts started filtering back into Gilchrist County. It was reported that people were without food or water in the Chattahoochee area. Lines being rebuilt for miles but at the end of the line there was no substation because the hurricane had wiped it out; local crews working on 34 miles of downed lines near Havana, Florida; local linemen eating MRI’s because they gave all their food away to the hungry citizens were among the reports coming back to Gilchrist County.
Brian Gilliam who works at Nutrien (formerly Southern States) located out State Road 47 in Trenton heard from another Nutrien store out in Camilla, Georgia that their area was hard hit also. The people of Camilla were without power, food and water. Gilliam contacted Donald and Julie Green, the owners of Gilchrist Trucking, and they agreed to transport the food and water that was quickly collected by volunteers. Those supplies left Gilchrist County headed to Camilla midday on Friday.
Five of our local deputies were sent on Thursday to Port Saint Joe to help the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office. Gilchrist and Hamilton Counties were the first outside law enforcement to arrive in Port Saint Joe after the hurricane. Lt. Clint Anderson was with this group from GCSO and he said on their way in they passed through Blountstown, which Lt. Anderson reported was hit very hard and mostly destroyed. When they arrived in Port Saint Joe, they soon saw that every building on the Bay side was either completely gone or damaged very badly. After arriving, our deputies soon learned that there was not any food, fuel or water for the deputies that were helping there. The word went out and by Saturday morning two large trailers of supplies as well as a tanker truck of fuel was headed to the panhandle with supplies for any law enforcement members working there, as well as citizens of the area that they met who were in need.
Krystal Holley is working with a group of volunteers to collect needed items at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office. She reported that an additional truck load of supplies for the Port Saint Joe area had left on Tuesday. Holley said that another truck would be leaving on Saturday, October 20. The Sheriff’s Office is a drop off point for those wanting to help the citizens of Gulf County by donating supplies. Holley asked for donations of nonperishable food, water and household supplies to be dropped off by Friday noon at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office. The donations from Gilchrist County are going to the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and they will distribute the supplies to their citizens.
Lt. Anderson also requested more water and tarpaulins for those trying to live in their badly damaged homes. Lt. Anderson said “These people here are happy to see that people care about them.” He went on to say how appreciative the citizens of Gulf County are for the supplies that are being donated to them.
The word went out earlier this week for one dish homemade meals for those affected by the hurricane. Casserole meals went to linemen, first responders, law enforcement members, volunteers, and citizens still in shelters in need of a hot meal. On Wednesday October 17, a truck left from the collection point at Palm Medical in Bell taking chicken pot pies, lasagna and chicken and rice casseroles. Julie Thomas sent out the casserole call with the hope of feeding as many people in the panhandle as possible.
After several trips to the panhandle, Sheriff Bobby Schultz reported, “This is a very difficult situation, we are giving them hope.”
Other Gilchrist County officials from the Emergency Management office have been helping with hurricane Michael relief in Gadsden County.
Donations of supplies for the citizens of Gulf County can be dropped off at the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office which is located at 9239 US-129, in Trenton, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Gilchrist sending help to Hurricane Michael Victims
By Cindy Jo Ayers