Warner Robins resident and Albany firefighter Chris Bryan was on duty when the violent storms that killed at least 15 people in south Georgia first hit.
“It’s still really bad,” said Bryan, a 15-year veteran of the Albany Fire Department. “A lot of the places … it’s literally inaccessible. Entire neighborhoods are just gone.”
He’s spent the last few days cutting up trees for those who can’t, preparing meals and making trips to Wal-Mart for 40 or 50 fleece blankets to give to cold residents.
“It’s really hard,” Bryan said. “When everybody is hurting real bad, you wish you could do more.”
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He asked his pastor at Westside Baptist Church in Warner Robins what they could do to help. Westside is now serving as a collection point for donations.
His father-in-law, Ronnie Kinsaul, at Raleigh White Baptist Church, is partnering with New Seasons Church led by Bryan’s close friend and former firefighter Marcus Glass.
The two Albany churches are able to provide supplies and feed people on a day-to-day basis. Bryan said he’s been able to take the items from Westside to those partnered churches to ensure the supplies get to people who need it most.
Several other churches, organizations, businesses and agencies are also leading donation drives.
Here’s a look at some:
▪ To volunteer to help in Albany, contact the Doughtery County Emergency Mangement Agency’s volunteer center at 229-733-2492 or 229-733-2534.
The American Red Cross, which has been providing shelter and meals for displaced storm victims, increased the number of disaster assessment teams Thursday.
Disaster workers are taking food, water and other relief supplies into accessible areas as families return to their homes for clean-up and repair.
A shelter in Dougherty County remains open in Albany for residents displaced by the storms at the Albany Civic Center, 100 W. Oglethorpe Blvd., Albany.
For more information about Red Cross services in coastal Georgia and how to help, call 229-436-4845 or visit The American Red Cross of Southwest Georgia Facebook Page @ARCSWGA.
Jeff Smith Chevrolet, on Chapman Road, has partnered with Hudson’s BBQ and Hedgerow Landscaping, both on Ga. 49, to aid Albany residents. The barbecue restaurant’s Roberta location is also helping.
“We are taking a load of donations down to the tornado victims — canned goods, diapers, wipes, Ensure, personal hygiene, bottled water or anything else you have to give,” said Dan Hudson, who owns Hudson’s BBQ.
One box truck load was dispatched Thursday. Donations are needed by 6 p.m. Friday in time for the next trip early Saturday.
“We’re also going to take a tractor, some manpower, chainsaws ... and clean up what we can,” Hudson said.
Donations after that will be driven down next week.
Also, Jeff Smith Chevrolet donated $1,000 and another $500 came from individual donations to purchase items from Sam’s Club for the American Red Cross to distribute in Albany, Hudson said.
▪ Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones has been collecting bottled water this week for tornado victims.
“Yesterday, I got so much water I had to change trucks from a 16 foot to a 20 foot,” Jones said Thursday.
Water can be dropped off 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday at Mitchell’s Auto Sales, 4281 Interstate Drive, Jones said.
▪ Lighthouse Baptist Church, 4770 Sardis Church Road, is collecting two-cycle oil for chain saws, gas cards and bottled water to be sent to Albany. The group started collecting Sunday and church members bought most of the items during service Wednesday night, said officer manager Kristin Black. The group plans to take the items down Monday. Oil and water can be left in the donation shed behind the church, but gas cards must be given directly to someone at the church. Contact: 478-781-9800
The Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter ended its collection drive one day early at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Jeremy Winters, of Centerpoint Church in Warner Robins, has been helping coordinate deliveries with the church, the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter and organizations in Albany.
His church’s efforts have ended, but he said the church remains open to continuing to accept donations if there is a need.
Centerpoint Church sent nearly 1,000 pounds of non-perishables, diapers, formula, tarps, gloves and dog food.
Winters said the churches in Albany are overwhelmed with clothing and he encourages people to move away from donating those items.
Items still needed are water, some non-perishable items, tarps, gloves, chain saw oil, small gift cards and generators. Batteries and flashlights for volunteers or those without power are also needed, he said.
▪ Brandon Court Apartments leasing office teamed up with Southern Daze Designs and Alliance Plumbing to collect donations. Donations may be dropped off at the apartment’s leasing office on 2241 Moody Road.
They’ve been collecting water, clothing, medicine, toiletries, toilet paper, drinks and canned food for the last few days. Monica Cobb, property manager at Brandon Court and the owner of Southern Daze Designs, said items still needed are feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, plastic food containers and new undergarments and socks of all sizes. The deliveries are going to Worth, Wilcox, Turner and Dougherty counties sometime Friday or Saturday afternoon. For more information, call 478-287-1357.
▪ Matthew Collins, co-owner of We Care Heating & Air, 924 South Houston Lake Road, said the business also started their collection Monday after members helped with storm damage in Warner Robins and Wilcox County this past weekend.
At their office, they are accepting any items needed in daily life, such as toothpaste, deodorant, food and even gently-used clothing. Items still needed include over-the-counter medicine, fruit and water.
Morale boosters such as toys, older Bibles and soft drinks are also encouraged. Collins said the business will be dropping off the items in Wilcox County and Albany on Friday and Saturday. The deadline to drop off items at the business is Saturday before lunch, Collins said. For more information, call 478- 218-2273.
▪ Warner Robins police have been collecting donations. The agency’s drive ends at 9 a.m. Friday.
▪ Shannon Craft, administrative assistant at Westside Baptist Church, 1101 Dunbar Road, Albany firefighter Bryan’s church, said tarps and undergarments are needed more than anything else. For more information, call 478-785-1024.
“We don’t have a cutoff date,” Craft said. “If they (donations) keep coming, we’ll keep taking them.”
Telegraph staff writer Liz Fabian contributed to this article.