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Pike County residents assisting hurricane victims

Pike County utility crews were ready to respond to extensive power outages in the area as Hurricane Michael threatened to bring it’s destructive force here.

Fortunately, the power outages were few and far between, and crews were able to get the lights back on quickly.

Now that Pike County is fully powered up, utility crews from the City of Troy and South Alabama Electric Cooperative are headed to the catastrophic devastation the category 4 storm left in Florida to assist utility crews in the area.

“We have a five-man crew headed to Quincy, Florida, right now,” said Brian Chandler, Troy Utilities manager, Thursday morning. “It is west of Tallahassee right off I-10. Communications are still very limited with people down there. We know they’re heavily damaged, but how bad we don’t really know. We took a couple of trucks, repair materials and some poles.”

Chandler said the crew is typically there for 7 to 10 days, but Troy Utilities will send replacement crews as “long as folks need help.”

Two six-member crews from SAEC have left to help with Pea River Electric Cooperative outages just southeast of their coverage area.

“They had about 11,0000 without power last time I heard,” said Andy Kimbro with SAEC. “It’s going to be a long restoration process. Depending on how long that takes we will help out with Wiregrass, Gulf Coast, West Florida Electric … It depends on what needs we have here, but we’re going to go help our neighbors. It’s just a matter of time before we will be the ones needing help.”

Pike County residents are also preparing to assist residents across the southeast that have had their homes devastated by the storm.

The Pike Animal Shelter is now taking donation for animals and humans that need help in storm-ravaged areas.

“We are planning on going down probably some time next week,” said Jacqueline Meeks, shelter director. “We’re going to send at least two girls down to deliver it. I’m sure they’re going to have stations set up to drop off donations, but they haven’t set that up yet. We’re not just for dogs – we’re looking for paper products, canned goods, dog and cat food –anything we can collect.”

Items can be dropped off at the shelter at 904 Henderson Highway or at Troy Animal Clinic or Southern Animal Hospital.

“Everybody is just heartbroken over this,” Meeks said. “So many people were not insured. They’re going to need this help.”

Teresa Kelly, agent for Landmark Realty, said she does not yet know the status of her condo in Panama City Beach, but expects there to be some damage.

“We just don’t know to what extent it is damaged because we just cant go down there yet with utility crews and first responders going that way,” Kelly said. “We’re going to wait until things clear up a little bit … We’re not really too worried though, we have insurance and there’s nothing that can’t be replaced. We’re just glad nobody was hurt.”

Kelly said she knows many other Pike County residents own homes along the coast as well that will be concerned about their properties as damage is assessed.

Jay Strickland is a Troy native, but he had been living in Panama City for the past 15 years until he moved back to Troy two months ago to be with his father. He is now collecting donations and planning a trip down to help family and friends clean up the mess left in Michael’s wake.

“I was going to be leaving tomorrow afternoon, but we’ve seen friends trying to get out from Jacksonville and Gainesville turned around because power lines and trees are down,” Strickland said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. My step-kids live down there and a bunch of friends; I’ve been on the phone with them all day. A whole lot of my friends are displaced right now; our Air Force friends at Tyndall Air Force Base are going back home. They’re not able to go on base right now it was hit so hard.”