At today's 3 p.m. COVID-19 briefing, which after the monster storm last Sunday does double duty as a tornado aftermath update, Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley announced he'd signed an updated declaration of emergency that provides for the county to issue permits of emergency contractors such as roofing and siding contractors. Rumley explained that this process, which the county instituted after the tornadoes of 2011 decimated the county, was for the protection of homeowners. "It creates a paper trail showing that they're legitimate, that they're bonded and capable of doing the work, without taking your money and leaving," he said
Rumley said the paperwork for these permits could be found on the county website, http://www.dadecounty-ga.gov. The Planet had no luck finding them there, but interested readers may try for themselves or call the county at (706) 657-4625 or Rumley's cellphone at (423) 667-8999.
Rumley also said he personally and the county in general would be handing out car window stickers in tornado-stricken neighborhoods such as Canyon Estates and Piney to identify homeowners. It was announced Thursday that no one would be allowed into the neighborhood but residents and those working to clean up treefall, repair homes and restore utilities. If you're not one of those, or a volunteer helping to chainsaw or clean up, Rumley says keep away because you're "nothing but in the way"--gawkers are continuing to be a problem, apparently. There's another sticker the county will issue to volunteers.
Of whom, by the way, Emergency Services Director Alex Case is still in need so if you'd like to pitch in, call his office at (706) 657-0411. Also call this number, says Case, to report damage to your home for his count and to apply for any available assistance. Case sent word that his updated tornado report today includes 12 houses totally destroyed and seven liveable but with major structural damage. He still had had no word whether individual help will be available from state and federal authorities for homeowners.
Rumley repeated today that Georgia Forestry and Department of Transportation are working long hours to help clean up after the storm and would be through Sunday. "Thank the Lord for that," he said. "The seven days we've got these people in here they're working daylight to dark, and we're so thankful to have them."
He reminded all the county is keeping the transfer station brush pit on Sunset Drive open seven days a week, and reminded residents to be careful while making repairs and cleaning up: A man on Jackson Street had just fallen off a roof onto concreate, said Rumley. "Just one split second can change your whole life."
He said the county also had forms up on its website for farmers who sustained property damage in tornado. Farmers and producers of cattle, hay and chickens, if you've got any storm damage at all please see the website--and good luck with that, The Planet can't help you there either--or you can call (423) 421 2453.
Onto the COVID-19 updates: The state numbers are very bad indeed today, 17,194 cases and 650 deaths in Georgia today, up from 15669 and 587 Thursday. That's 1525 new cases and 63 more deaths overnight, but Dade is still at seven. That's more than triple what it was at the beginning of the week but still not that awful by comparison and again Rumley seemed inclined toward optimism. "Just try to keep doing what you're doing," he said. About whether or not the state lockdown will be continued past the end of the month he said: "I don't really know what the governor's got in mind."
About Cloudland Canyon State Park Rumley did know what the governor has in mind, which is, as announced yesterday, keeping it open very much against the wishes and pleas of Dade County. "That wasn't really the answer that people wanted," he acknowledged. He repeated that the park intended to shut its gates for several hours once it got to its 150-car limit. "They've got kind of a long-thought-out plan," said Rumley. "I hope it works."
A new issue today was public worries about the hang gliders at Lookout Mountain Flight Park. No, said Rumley, hang gliding was not an essential business, but the park did come under the governor's general protection of outdoor recreation. He said the proprietor at the flight park, Matt Tabor, is making sure social distance is maintained and that "he's advised the pilots to stay away from the bluff lines."
Apparently the issue, if it is an issue, at the flight park arose from a call to the state COVID-19 hotline. If you'd like to report violations of the shelter-in-place rules, or any other concerns, that number is 1 (844) 442-2681.
Speaking of compliance, Rumley also spent a few minutes talking about the Southeastern Lineman Training Center, the training college that brings upwards of 250 hungry young men to Trenton several times a year. Like the Cloudland Canyon tourists, they're usually a shot in the arm for the local economy. Now, also like the Cloudland Canyon tourists, their influx is seen as a potential vector for the spread of the deadly coronavirus into Dade.
Rumley said as of now the plan was to bring the new class in in May, but the trainees will be quarantined for 14 days, tested for the virus and certified as negative, and, Rumley thought for a time anyway, fed on-site rather than turned loose on the local restaurants (which in normal times are happy to have them). "This class year will be like no other they've ever had," said Rumley. "They've spent a lot of time and money to ensure our safety, as much as the people that are working there as well as the boys and girls."
In response to a question, he repeated there is no curfew in Dade County except for youth under 18. "That's something we may have to go to," said Rumley.
Dade County Schools Central Office official Josh Ingle said with any luck school lunch delivery will go back to its normal schedule next week after being disrupted by the tornado this one. School buses deliver free kids' meals Mondays and Wednesdays four hours after their regular morning pickup time, or parents may pick up their kids' food from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Davis or Dade Elementary.
Ingle added that Davis Elementary is accepting pre-K applications for next school year. Forms may be downloaded from the Dade Schools website--there's a link on the Planet article about pre-K on the home page of this site--then printed and turned in to the bus drivers when they drop off meals. By the way, Dade Elementary's pre-K is already full, said Ingle.
Christy Smith, Trenton's pulchritudinous police pontiff, reminded all that the shelter-in-place rule was for safety. "It's not any type of punishment," she said. She said Tri-State Food Pantry wanted people to remember that if they've had a reduction in income due to the lockdown they may now qualify for food help.
Additionally, Chief Smith and the Trenton PD will be partnering with the pantry and other community groups for a free food distribution May 4 at Dade Elementary. Check the PD's Facebook page for details as they emerge, or follow these daily briefings. "You do have to be a Georgia resident to qualify," said the chief.
The briefings are livestreamed each day at 3 p.m. from the Dade County Ga. FB page. "Like" the page and you will be alerted when the county goes live; or watch the videos later on that page or on The Planet's, where they are routinely shared.