With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hitting Texas, Florida and Georgia almost back-to-back, our neighbors have kept busy coordinating relief efforts to help those affected by flooding and devastating winds. Here are a few of the ways Cherokee County residents have sprung into action.
Animal Hospital of Towne Lake
The Woodstock veterinarian office was a collection site for a rescue delivery to a church in Orange, Texas. Employee Andrea King set up the collection for her cousin, Melissa Cotton, from Cumming, who does rescue work for Save the Horses and made the drive with a horse trailer full of supplies. Hundreds of pounds of dog food, bowls, beds, leashes and other items were given for families who lost everything.
Cherokee Emergency Shelters
The Cherokee Outdoor YMCA on Bells Ferry Road was busy
for four days, peaking with 33 Irma evacuees on Sept. 11. Among
the overnight visitors were local residents and a few from Brunswick, Ga., a double amputee in a wheelchair with his service dog, and multiple pets, including a bird. Most people sought safety because of concerns about the strong winds and potential for uprooted trees.
The YMCA had capacity for 77, with seven individual rooms each with 11 beds. Each room also had a bathroom, and towels and linens were provided. Dave Andrews, executive director of the Cherokee YMCA, said the Canton Hampton Inn donated bedding, and WalMart gave towels. Food donations came from Chick-fil-A, Papa John’s Pizza, Alessandro’s Italian Cafe and Pizzeria, and Tasty Donuts.
“It’s been really heartwarming to see how everyone has come together to help out,” Andrews said. “We had a lot of kids, so we set up a crafts area downstairs that included building kits from Home Depot, and two screens to show movies. It was helpful for the parents to be able to relax, and the kids to enjoy being with other kids.”
Social media helped in the challenge of spreading the word about the available shelter. Andrews said he started by contacting Pam Carnes at the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the Canton, Woodstock and Holly Springs police departments, and Northside Hospital Cherokee officials. Multiple shared social media posts, one of which went viral on the Cherokee Emergency Management Facebook page, helped broadcast the news.
“We even heard people found us from a spot on NPR. It’s been everywhere,” Andrews said.
The outdoor YMCA was one of two emergency shelters for the county. Action Church in Canton, known for opening an emergency shelter during the coldest days of winter, opened and housed 13 local residents when Irma blew through on Sept. 11. The church is at 271 Marietta Road.
Canton church representative Zip Cain said members collected enough items between Revolution Church and Freedom Church to almost completely fill a 26-foot box truck. The items went to Shiloh Baptist Church in Vidor, Texas. Brian Hudgins and Freddie Mitchell drove the truck in place of Paul Crisp, who was originally supposed to drive the truck but suddenly passed away the week before the mission. Collections were gathered in a six-day span.
Towne Lake Family Chiropractic
Amber York said her employer, Towne Lake Family Chiropractic, and Healing Palms Massage Therapy connected to gather donations for a displaced 20-member family who fled Texas to escape Hurricane Harvey to be with relatives in this area. Word spread through the community and participation grew. DD Lee from Skyline Properties initially reached out to friends on Facebook, which caught the attention of Sue Lorincz of Healing Palms Massage Therapy, and the staff at Towne Lake Family Chiropractic. “We have since received donations of clothes, bedding, school supplies, personal hygiene items, food, cash and gift cards. The outpouring of support from our community has been amazing,” York said.
The plight of this family and others devastated by the hurricane caught the attention of one special, tender-hearted 12-year-old, who is the daughter of Sara Dorsey, a physician’s assistant at Northside Pediatrics. When Amberlee Dorsey heard about the family in need, she donated $190, which was all of the money she had saved.
From Amberlee Dorsey:
“I first heard about the hurricane in Texas when my mom and I were watching videos of people saving other people and animals. It made me feel so sad that I wanted to cry. I knew right then that I wanted to donate. I felt something in my heart, like God was telling me to do something. I didn’t need my money, these families did! Giving is one of the greatest things you can do. It changes lives! It doesn’t matter how much money or what you give because every little bit counts. Pray for families who have gone through this, and God will help.”
The Sixes Road congregation sent 6,000 bottles of water, more than 8,000 diapers, 50 cans of baby formula, more than 100 packs of baby wipes and 30 gallons of bleach to Harvey victims. Also included in the 8,000 pounds of supplies were hundreds of rolls of paper towels, gloves, cleaning rags and towels. Teena and Eric Regan delivered the donations to Texas.
Funds were raised to send 300 SERV Water Filtration Systems to help families in Texas without clean water. “We use these in other countries that do not have resources for clean water,” said Jim Vinyard, chief operations officer of SERV International. The filters, which cost $35 each, were sent to Houston. While SERV is working to meet immediate needs, the campaign continues to help U.S. residents as well as those around the world. For details, visit www.servone.org/water.