City, county officials discuss post hurricane plans

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

City and county officials gathered at the Greenville City Council Chambers Friday morning to gather ideas and assess damage as a group. The short meeting was help to allow officials to discuss where they stood and how they could get information to their citizens.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon opened the meeting by discussing just how severe the damage had been.

&uot;I don’t think I have to tell anyone that this is the most devastating thing I have ever seen in the city of Greenville,&uot; said McLendon. &uot;I went up in a helicopter this morning and the scene from the air was a lot worse than we could even tell on the ground riding around.&uot;

McLendon said one of the main problems in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan had been people crowding into the hospitals. McLendon said there was an enormous need for a place people could go to keep hospitals open to those who had the greatest need. While the people who had gone to the hospitals were in need themselves, McLendon said there was a better way to deal with them.

&uot;Everybody is going to the hospitals that need oxygen and other things,&uot;said McLendon. &uot;We need a place or a building to take these people to keep from overcrowding the hospital. We don’t have a place like that and we need one.&uot;

McLendon said it would be ideal to find a facility in town, which was operational and could be used for just such a cause.

&uot;We do have power in certain places and I would like to be able to have a place to send these people,&uot; said McLendon. &uot;Our needs are that we need a place open to help our people that can’t go to the hospital right now.&uot;

Emergency Planner Bob Luman said he echoed the sentiments of the mayor.

&uot;I completely agree,&uot; said Luman. &uot;We need a place for these people to go. That is up to the EMA and the Red Cross. We do need a place for them though.&uot;

The city has been walled off in many ways because of blocked or closed roads. McLendon felt the only solution would be to find an accessible, large building to house those in need.

&uot;I have counted 36 roads that are still closed right now,&uot; said McLendon.

&uot;What we are looking for is a place whether it is a church or a school or somewhere we can put people where they can be comfortable, in air conditioning. My main thing right now is getting these people some help. We need to get a designated area for people on oxygen and other things. We need to do something about this.&uot;

On a positive note, McLendon reported the city was in good shape as far as water was concerned. There was even enough to help out other areas of Butler County.

&uot;We have five wells ready,&uot; said McLendon.

&uot;Right now we have been running two or three. If we can keep three we will be all right.&uot;

Luman said other areas of the county had not been so fortunate.

&uot;We do have a problem with water in Georgiana and some other areas in the county,&uot; said Luman. &uot;We just need to have a place for them to come and get things like that.&uot;

Residents whose lawns have been littered with trees and debris are in a hurry to get things cleared up. McLendon warned them to be wary of people offering to do this type of work. He said many times it could be a scam.

&uot;We can’t have people coming into town and telling everybody they will clean everything up for $2,500.,&uot; said McLendon. &uot;We found out about it, it’s a rip-off and if we catch anybody like that we are going to put them underneath the jail.&uot;

The city and county are not allowed to do major work on private land. However, Luman said if people are patient they are able to make their driveways passable.

&uot;One of the problems a lot of people have is trees falling on driveways,&uot; said Luman. &uot;We can’t work on private property, but we are able to clear trees off driveways for safety reasons. They can’t come clear trees off the sidewalk for you, but they can get it to where you can come and go.&uot;

Another side effect of the storm was school closings.

At the meeting Dr. Mike Reed announced Butler County Schools would remain closed through Monday. It is likely electricity will still be off for most of the county schools at this time and Reed felt it would be best to put them all in session at the same time.

&uot;We wanted to start them at the same time rather than start some and leave others out,&uot; said Reed. &uot;I have been to all the schools and all the principals are they’re working today.&uot;

All Butler County full time school employees are asked to report to work Monday to help with the clean up effort. Reed said the school system would gather Monday and work from that point.

&uot;We are asking that all janitors, full time personnel, and bus mechanics report to work Monday,&uot; said Reed. &uot;We’ll just have to go from there.&uot;

Officials at Fort Dale Academy are waiting on power to be restored at the school before reopening their doors to students.

&uot;We are going to talk to the Alabama Power officials on Sunday and they are going to let me know if we are going to be up and running Sunday,&uot; said FDA headmaster David Brantley. &uot;If electricity is on we are going to go to school. I spoke to them (Friday) and they said if they got help in here they would get it on, but they will not know until Sunday.&uot;

Brantley said the school had minimal damage and that everything was a go to reopen as long as they had power. &uot;There are some trees down and some shingles lost here and there,&uot; he said. &uot;But we were very fortunate.&uot;

While Butler County was devastated by Hurricane Ivan McLendon said it was important to remember there were others out there who had it worse. People all over the Gulf Coast were in dire need of help themselves.

&uot;As bad as we are here Mobile and Gulf Shores are 100 times worse,&uot; said McLendon.

&uot;They are the ones that need help even more than we do.&uot;