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County under water

During the recent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day storms, all of Crenshaw County experienced torrential downpours that left many dirt roads and bridges out of commission. It was reported by Emergency Management Agency officials that within the span of 72 hours, Crenshaw County received 17 inches of rain.  Small creeks such as the one running under Swanner Bridge Road (pictured) were more than twice their original size by the time the storms subsided. (Courtesy photo)

During the recent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day storms, all of Crenshaw County experienced torrential downpours that left many dirt roads and bridges out of commission. It was reported by Emergency Management Agency officials that within the span of 72 hours, Crenshaw County received 17 inches of rain. Small creeks such as the one running under Swanner Bridge Road (pictured) were more than twice their original size by the time the storms subsided. (Courtesy photo)

During the recent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day storms, all of Crenshaw County experienced torrential downpours that left many dirt roads and bridges out of commission. It was reported by Crenshaw County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director Elliott Jones that within the span of 72 hours, Crenshaw County received 17 inches of rain.  “We worked jointly with the County Engineer Department and the Sheriff’s Office; EMA works universally,” said Jones. “We haven’t seen rain like that, that hard and that much at one time, in 20 years, probably.”

After situations like these occur, Jones and other officials explore the areas affected in order to assess any damages done. EMA then sends situation reports to the state, and then the process of getting federal money back in to fix the damages begins.

According to Jones, no flooded homes were reported after the storms, and no deaths due to flooding occurred. From what officials could tell, the only bridges that suffered substantial damage were those located on dirt roads.

“The water’s all receding around us. We are under an emergency declaration filed with the state, and that’s just something we had to do to start the healing process,” said Jones. “As an EMA director, one of my biggest jobs is not just to manage what’s happening here but to manage the financial end of getting our county reimbursed.”

The following roads and bridges were closed during the time of the storms: N. Moody’s Cross Roads, Honey Jones Creek Road bridge, Mcleod Road, Smith Chapel Road, Parker Creek Road bridge, W. Robinson Road, Old Franklin Road, Kilcrease Road, West Road, Powell Road, Friendship Road, Ferrene Road, Luke Road, Old Three Notch Road, N. King Street and Swanner Bridge Road.

In light of all of the recent weather related situations the county has encountered, Jones has begun the process of organizing an American Red Cross chapter in Crenshaw County as well as a saferoom and shelter management team for the shelters currently located in Pleasant Home, Weedville, Chapel Hill, Panola, Danielville and Petrey.

Jones is currently searching for individuals that live near the shelters that could act as a key holder for the building. Along with this responsibility, Jones will train the volunteers in First Aid safety and will offer CPR certification courses for those interested.

It is Jones’ hope that by enlisting the aid of these extra volunteers that more people in the county will receive the help that is needed during times of crisis. These volunteers would be in close contact with Jones throughout the storm cycle, and would receive updates whenever possible. According to Jones, the volunteers would be asked to go to the shelters and unlock them at the first sign of a weather crisis, and once the immanent weather appears, they would be asked to stay at the shelter to help those in need of protection.

“That’s something I hope to have done within the next 90 days. I think that would be very beneficial to the county,” said Jones. “If anyone lives close to a shelter and would like to take on that responsibility, please contact my office.”

An interest meeting regarding the American Red Cross chapter will be held on Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. in the EMA office. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for the saferoom and shelter management team or for the American Red Cross chapter can contact Jones at 335-4538.