Officials ‘pretty encouraged’ after storm passes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 2004

Across Pike County, emergency officials agreed that Hurricane Ivan packed a big punch,

but it was far from a knockout blow.

&uot;We didn’t have the damage I thought we were going to have,&uot; Pike County Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Davis said Thursday. &uot;Overall, it looks pretty encouraging. There is damage- shingles, porches, awnings, roof damage. We’ve got trees and limbs down. But it could have been worse.&uot;?

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&uot;There’™s an awful lot of damage,&uot; Troy mayor Jimmy Lunsford said. &uot;But fortunately, we had prepared for even worse.&uot;

Troy utilities manager James Flowers estimated that 85 percent of Troy’s nearly 15, 000 customers lost power on Thursday. And while sustained winds of around 35 mph and gusts up to 70 continued to bend trees and power poles, utility crews could not begin repairs until late Thursday afternoon.

&uot;For the safety of the men working, we couldn’t send them out in that wind,&uot; Flowers said. &uot;We have done a lot of ground work. We’ve cut a lot of trees and cleared some roads. As soon as we can get crews in the bucket trucks we’ll get started repairing these lines.&uot;

Lunsford was asked to name the most frustrating part of a long day at City Hall.

&uot;The length of time the wind lingered,&uot;the mayor said. &uot;The rain we could handle. The roads are in pretty good shape. The wind is what’s so frustrating.&uot;

The mayor praised the work of emergency officials, whose efforts early in the storm made it possible for crews to find damage on the ground quickly.

&uot;I really commend the Public Works Department,&uot; Lunsford said. &uot;They were moving trees, clearing roads. Our police force has done a yeoman’s job. We had cars all around town and when they saw a problem, they reported it right away.&uot;

Flowers said there were several priorities as power is restored.0

&uot;We want to make sure the health care facilities have power,&uot; Flowers said. &uot;We want to get power to the water wells, so we can continue to have water. We have some elderly folks we want to get back on. Beyond that, we’d like to bring the lines that serve the most people up first.&uot;

Flowers said repairing the lines should be relatively simple.

&uot;There will be some spotty areas that won’™t come back when we turn the main lines on,&uot; he said. &uot;But I hope we’ll have a lot of people back on line by Saturday.&uot;

Davis said reports around the county indicated not a lot of damage to power lines. While his biggest headache was power outages, the rest of the county’s infrastructure looked sound.

&uot;The rivers and creeks are in good shape,&uot; Davis said. &uot;

The roads seem to have held up, even though we’ve had a lot of rain. There is a lot of water standing around. Hopefully, we’ll get some federal funding and start to recover from this,&uot;

Davis said the Banks area &uot;fared well. They did lose power but they came through O.K. Goshen had a problem because when they lost power they lost water, too.&uot;

Goshen does not have a backup generator to pump water to its residents.

In fact, Davis called Alabama Guard officials to request generators be sent to Goshen for the water station,

Magnolia Wood Lodge facility for the elderly

and the Pike County Jail.


Davis said early preparedness helped storm damage from being worse.

&uot;We don’t second-guess Mother Nature,&uot; Davis said. &uot;The point is being prepared. Those utility workers and public works crews, in their own way, are like firemen and policemen. In this case, their hard worked showed up.

&uot;It prevented another Opal. The lines didn’t have near the damage because they were well maintained.&uot;

American Red Cross Pike County branch director Jane Thrash said three Red Cross shelters opened to care for evacuees. Those, combined with the two guard armory shelters that opened in Troy and Brundidge, served a total of 222 workers and clients.

&uot;There were other people who went to several church shelters that opened,&uot; Thrash said. &uot;That’s fine, as long as they had someplace to go.&uot;

Red Cross workers Susan and Jennifer Register drove around Pike County assessing damage. Many mobile homes sustained skirting damage, trees were uprooted or snapped off, but they saw very few devastating events.

&uot;The Henderson Community Center looked like it had a lot of damage and there was a trailerwith only about two pieces of tin left on it at 209 County Road 2296 in Spring Hill,&uot;? Jennifer Register said.

&uot;This wasn’t another Opal,&uot; Susan Register said. &uot;Thank God for that.&uot;