Disaster Relief volunteers say cleanup in hurricane zone will be long, arduous task


VALDOSTA, Ga. — Cleanup is underway in south Georgia after a pummeling blow by Hurricane Idalia knocked trees onto homes and downed powerlines, leaving thousands without electricity in the summer heat.

A chainsaw crew from Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief spent Friday removing a fallen tree from the Baptist Collegiate Ministries building at Valdosta State University. Others prepared meals for storm victims.

Disaster Relief volunteer Chris Fuller said the city had removed most of the fallen trees from Valdosta’s main thoroughfares by Friday afternoon.

“The problem is there is no electricity, so no functioning traffic lights,” he said. “Every intersection is an adventure.”

Georgia Power said about 15,000 customers in the Valdosta area remained without electricity on Friday evening.

Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said the deployment includes 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.

Idalia made landfall about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday in Florida as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. It had moved east across Georgia had crossed out of the state by 9 p.m. 

Fuller, part of a Disaster Relief chainsaw crew, predicted cleanup will be long and arduous.

“It’s a mess,” he said.