Gadsden County begins road to recovery from Hurricane Michael

Less than 15 miles northwest of Tallahassee, Gadsden County was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Michael.
Photo submitted by Julious Lowe.

Residents of Gadsden County are still recovering from the devastation left behind from Hurricane Michael. Two weeks after the Category 4 storm struck, approximately 3,401 homes in Gadsden County, or about 23 percent of the homes within the county, were still without power.

“The experience has been rough and eye-opening.  As you may know, we've heard about storms coming through this area, but they have never been as bad as this one.  We've been passed over so many times, but we caught the brunt of this one,” said Renita Woodward.

“It’s rough being without power for a couple of days so I had to spend time with my community and friends and family until our lights were on once again,” Jermaine Miller said.

The Gadsden County Sherriff’s Office and Talquin Electric Cooperative have worked around the clock over the past two weeks in an effort to restore power and resources to the people of Gadsden County.

Linemen crews from all across the state have been working day in and day out to restore downed power lines and power stations, while sheriff deputies have passed out resources like ice and food and water to citizens of Gadsden County affected by the hurricane.

“I believe everyone did what was necessary to get power restored to the residents of Gadsden County. The day after the storm, I'm sure the city and county officials had to assess the damage and then determine what areas needed attention first.  The sheriff of Gadsden County made sure everyone was safe and tried to get all citizens to adhere to the much needed curfew established after the storm,” Woodward said.

She continued, “Citizens had to be patient because the line workers (who were from near and far) put themselves in harm’s way to get power re-established to our community.”

“I believe the first responders did a great job in aiding those in need in Gadsden County and that we will have Gadsden County with food, water, and the necessities that’s needed to help out our neighbors and those that have been affected by this storm,” Miller said.

Gadsden County was placed under a strict curfew imposed by the Gadsden County Sherriff’s Office for more than a week after the hurricane. The curfew was put in place to prevent anyone from taking advantage of the storm and to keep everyone off the streets at night while power was restored to the community.

“The curfew was much needed.  Lights were out, and this could’ve been disastrous. Streetlights were out, stores could've been looted, and the streets were a mess with downed power poles and trees.  The safety of the citizens was very important at this time,” Woodward said.

Residents of Gadsden County look to move forward in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Organizations such as FEMA, Salvation Army, and American Red Cross, as well as neighboring counties, have all pitched in to help the citizens of Gadsden County get back on their feet.

“I believe Gadsden County can learn from this disaster and move forward with setting up avenues to get the word out after the storm.  We received phone calls before and during the storm, but the communication seemed to stop once the hurricane was over.  Communication is key afterwards as well because people need to know where to go for assistance (if it’s needed),” Woodward said.