Governor Deal and the state heads of public safety, agriculture, transportation, and others have been gathering at the capitol to track the damage.
They’re not just evaluating that damage but working together to figure out how to dig out of it, literally and figuratively.
Governor Deal tells me he’s had calls from 5 of the National Departmental Secretaries and the one of the commanders of the Army Corps of Engineers.
For example, the Forestry Department is providing 9 chainsaw strike teams to deal with debris, and the National Guard sending 1500 soldiers to help clear that.
But for farmers, one of their problems: no more crops left to clear.
Governor Deal says he is focused on a major loss of livelihood for many of Georgia’s farmers, particularly those growing cotton and pecans.
Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black says that the pictures of the damage are devastating. Citing one farmer who was getting 3 bales of cotton per acre when harvesting yesterday, the storm harvested the rest of it to where you can’t tell a difference.
Black is working with former Georgia Governor and US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, not yet knowing what to do, put personally knowing who needs the help.
Black says the damage is devastating — even though some areas escaped unscathed.
“Our worst dreams are being realized,” says Commissioner Black. “I have seen pictures this morning of cotton that was being harvested yesterday, an outstanding yield of three bales an acre. Today, you cannot tell where he stopped harvest and where the rest of it was harvested by the storm.”
“If you got hit, it’s a real disaster,” says Governor Deal.
And, one of the biggest problems is of course those power outages.
Governor Deal says, in all, there are around half a million Georgians without power. And before the crews can get in to fix that, the debris has to get out. Governor Deal says with help on the way, stay out of the way.
Deal empathizing, saying first hand that anyone who has been without power knows it’s not a pleasant position. Pleading that people be patient, as there are multiple steps to get your lights back on.
The Department of Transportation, Forestry and the National Guard working together to help the power trucks get into the affected areas so they can start their work. Saying the biggest problem is predictable…
“Past experience tells us that the greatest impediment to restoring power is people getting in the way of power trucks,” says Governor Deal. “Be patient, do not impede those trying to help you.”
Governor Deal says that the places that must have power, hospitals and nursing homes, all are up and running, many from generators.
And, for those without, particularly if they have a true need for power with regard to medical issues, there 6 Red Cross shelters currently operating.
Governor Deal is hopeful that in the coming days, the President will visit Southwest Georgia to see that damage firsthand and send more support.