When a raging wildfire broke out last Thursday afternoon in Long County, residents all over the Coastal Georgia region came together in a moving display of support, volunteerism and pride.
Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. When they strike, communities usually don’t have much time to respond. But that didn’t stop the people in and around Long County from springing into action almost immediately, rallying to support those who fought the fire and those who were victimized by it.
As first responders battled the blaze throughout the area, neighbors assisted neighbors, volunteers kept workers fed, churches opened their doors to evacuees and community members filled in wherever they were needed. And the generosity didn’t stop there. Even after the fire was under control and evacuees were allowed to return to their homes, people continued to exhibit touching displays of generosity.
After more than 4,000 acres and 10 structures burned, area residents stepped up to the plate to help those affected by donating food, clothing and other goods. The Coastal Courier served as a drop-off site for anyone who wanted to donate items. After the announcement was made, it took almost no time at all for the office conference room to fill up with piles of contributions.
There has been no shortage of praise for the 30 fire departments and 270 firefighters who poured their hearts and souls into protecting Long County residents and their property. Their dedication to their jobs was astonishing and, through it all, they helped members of the press keep the public updated on their progress.
Officials were forthcoming with information and willing to quickly and politely answer every media inquiry issued.
It is unfortunate that disaster struck our community, but the public’s reaction couldn’t have been any more empassioned. During a time of crisis, cool heads and warm hearts prevailed.
Area residents should strive to keep that momentum going. It’s admirable that communities can unite so quickly in the face of tragedy, and there’s no reason why that bond needs to waver. In fact, practicing disaster preparedness can bring communities together to support emergency-action planning, create channels of communication, introduce resources and create safe, healthy environments.
After the wildfire died down, the U.S. Forestry Service conducted a disaster-awareness presentation in the Long County High School cafeteria. The program, which was open to the public, included a PowerPoint presentation, safety procedures and recommendations in case of another fire or emergency situation.
Attending such events guarantees Coastal Georgia area communities will be ready and unified should disaster ever touch the lives of our residents again.
Furthermore, the wildfire may be out, but the ordeal is far from over. The long road of rehabilitation lies before the Long County residents who lost their homes to the blaze or
had their property damaged. The help of individuals and organizations will be needed to assist with rebuilding and repairing structures and dwellings.
The fire may have blazed through the area with lightning speed, but the pace of recovery will be much slower. It will take manpower and dedication to help the affected area and citizens bounce back. But Long County and the surrounding communities certainly have given onlookers good reason to believe they’re up to the job.