VALDOSTA — In Georgia’s hurricane zone, the long Labor Day weekend has been no walk in the park for Disaster Relief crews who are volunteering their time to help storm victims.
Sweat soaks their conspicuous yellow shirts as they balance on sweltering rooftops, sawing away fallen trees that had been toppled by Hurricane Idalia on Wednesday.
Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said the volunteers are working as quickly as they can in the late summer heat to get to everyone who needs their services.
“These homeowners are looking for a sense of normal,” Carter said. “We’re doing all we can to help them. I’m expecting the recovery will probably go on for three weeks.”
Chris Fuller, a member of one of the Disaster Relief chainsaw crews, said the volunteers are working amid heat, humidity and biting insects to provide hope, healing and help to people in hard-hit areas.
“The bugs are everywhere,” he said.
Disaster Relief volunteers took time out to attend a worship service at Northside Baptist Church Sunday morning and received a lengthy standing ovation from the congregation.
The volunteers have been sleeping on cots and air mattresses in Sunday school rooms at Northside Baptist.
Gov. Brian Kemp estimated that the storm did some $35 million in damage across southern Georgia. He has requested federal assistance for residents, businesses, and local governments impacted by Idalia.
Electricity had been restored by Sunday afternoon to all but a handful of customers, primarily in the Valdosta area.
Carter said Georgia Baptists have deployed mobile kitchen crews, heavy equipment operators, chainsaw teams, chaplains, family care volunteers, mobile laundromats and shower units.
Their work, which is done free of charge, is being concentrated in a five-county area around Valdosta where most of the Georgia damage occurred.
Most of the damage, Carter said, has been caused by falling trees landing on rooftops.
“We’re talking big trees, so it’s a big job,” he said. “It’s going really well, but we will probably ask for some of our out-of-state brothers to come in and help us.”
Idalia had made landfall in Florida shortly after sunrise on Wednesday as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. It had moved east across Georgia had crossed out of the state shortly after sunset.