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City working to reach out to storm victims


Nathan Gregory



Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said his office and Columbus Light and Water have fielded numerous calls from East Columbus residents who have been without power since Monday's severe weather event and crews are working to address their needs. 


First responders are going door to door in numerous residential areas to provide whatever assistance is needed and CL&W crews are working sun up to sun down until power is restored to all homes, Smith said. Firemen and police officers are checking on residents in the meantime.  


"We want the citizens to know that we're doing everything we can from the light and water department standpoint to restore power," Smith said. "Our primary concern is to try to get them some relief and some comfort. You can understand that they are upset. We want to let them know that we are concerned. Columbus Light and Water is working around the clock trying to get them some relief and get their power back on, but they just have to be understanding." 


The Salvation Army has had its canteen truck in the area for much of the day today serving hot meals to those in need, local chapter executive director Eric Roberts said. The Salvation Army will have a dinner today at its 2219 Main St. location from 5-7 p.m. and may have another meal there Wednesday. Roberts encourages anyone who is able to get to the facility to receive a meal to do so. Over the last two days, the truck has been the source of 135 meals, he said, while 90 meals were served today at the Main Street office for lunch.  


"We'll be out there as long as we need to be," Roberts said. "It's better that they come to us if they can. We have so many more to serve around Beech Street and Poplar Avenue but we ran out of food earlier, so we came back to the building to restock." 


Roberts added that The Salvation Army is always accepting food donations but that money is currently needed the most. 


WCBI-TV is hosting a donation drive at the Malco Theater parking lot today through 7 p.m. and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Items being accepted include water, sports drinks, cleaning supplies, diapers and toiletries. 


CL&W General Manager Todd Gale said crews from the Okalona Electric Department have come in to assist local crews in restoring electricity to those who have been affected and hopes to have power restored in all areas by Friday. 


Lowndes County Department of Human Services Division of Field Operations Director said current recipients of SNAP benefits who have been without power for 12 or more consecutive hours can come to the DHS office and fill out forms to replace food supply spoiled as a result of the power outage. The office is located at 1604 College St. For more information, call 328-5278. 


Smith wanted to remind residents that city public works crews cannot enter private property to remove limbs and debris from yards, but if they cut fallen trees and limbs and put them on the side of the street, crews will work to remove them as soon as possible. 


West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson has mobilized seven city employees there to assist Columbus public works crews to assist in the cleanup effort. 


The areas affected are located mostly in Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens' area. He said he's also been visiting residents along with first responders to find out what needs they have and tend to them. Police officers have brought tarp to residents so they can temporarily cover their roofs, Mickens said, adding that his main concern has been the well being of senior citizens who have had no electricity since Monday. 


"With Light and Water telling some of them it might not get on until tomorrow, that's four days," Mickens said. "People are losing their food in their refrigerator. Some of them don't have hot water now because they've used all of it up. Some of them are staying in motels, and that's extra money."


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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