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Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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The Distribution Center.

Inside of the Distribution Center.

Buckets containing necessities for cleaning up after a storm.

CERT Members Michael Terrell, Leah Wooddall, and Mark James

Volunteers working at the Volunteer Coordination Center.

James and Katy Westbrook getting out of the helicopter. EMA Director at Kennesaw State University and Katy has helped with the Hazard Mitigation Plan, etc.


Call Center volunteers.

Ongoing work in the EOC with several different groups as this was before the roads were cleared.


The Spalding County Chamber of Commerce coordinating meals. Pictured are Cindy Jones - Spalding President, Alison Pollard – Membership Director, Wanda Smallwood – Admin, and Chamber Member Jennifer Hall from Jake Stanley’s office.

Spalding EMA Director Glenn Polk, GEMA Area 4 Field Coordinator Jason Ritter, and Chris Johnson of SDR, a disaster debris management service specialist pictured after their return from a county-wide flyover.

Georgia Defense Force. Tracking changes on the GIS map.

Georgia Defense Force. Submitted picture.

Georgia Defense Force. Submitted picture.

Georgia Defense Force. Submitted picture.

Georgia Defense Force. Submitted picture.

Georgia Defense Force. Submitted picture.

Georgia Defense Force. Submitted picture.
A Look Behind The Scenes After the Spalding County Tornadoes
By Editor Becky Watts

GRIFFIN - On Monday, January 16, 2023, Pike County made a trip to Spalding County to see how the Volunteer Reception Center, the Distribution Center, and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) worked so readers would know what to expect when going to volunteer or bring items to help those effected by the tornadoes.

And there is a LOT that goes on in the background at the EOC that isn’t seen but directly affects those who are victims of a storm like this. This is giving credit where credit is due and letting readers know how to be a part of this cleanup and recovery effort!

Spalding Call Center

678-453-4508 is number to call to volunteer to help residents clear debris from yards. Volunteers will be available to answer your call from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Please call this number if you are in need of volunteers to help you clean up yard or if you need donated goods and have no way to reach the Distribution Center.

Volunteers are also needed to answer the 678-453-4508 Spalding Call Center. Ask about that when you call if you would like to help.

[Note from the Editor: A photo of volunteers answering calls is included above. They didn’t want me to list their names and were gracious to let me take a picture. Everyone I encountered was the same way. They were simply giving their time and doing their jobs to try to take care of people the best of their ability.]

Volunteer Coordination Center - 885 Memorial Drive

On Monday, the Volunteer Coordination Center was set up and coordinated by the Coweta County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Michael Terrell was one of the Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) members who showed me around the Senior Center that day.

He advised that the county provided a list of citizen needs like needing help with trees that was tracked on a spreadsheet by address. There was also a large map of these needs that was marked to track what needs were still waiting and what needs had been taken care of.

The Coweta CERT members were in charge of tracking and coordinating the needs as well as ensuring that groups went out with safety gear and had bottled water and the appropriate equipment to handle the need in which they responded. This was a group of volunteers organizing volunteers in the Spalding area that also included local citizens.

“We’re trying to support local EMA partners,” Terrell explained. When a tornado struck Coweta County in 2021, Spalding County was there to support their community. Coweta CERT members were here to support Spalding County and pay back that support.

CERT members Michael Terrell, Leah Wooddall, and Mark James are picture above.

Do you have a chainsaw, a skid steer, etc. or just want to put on some gloves and pull some limbs after they have been cut? Please come to the Volunteer Coordination Center where they are pairing up volunteers to help in the clean up effort.

They will give you an armband and an assignment so you can help in areas that may not be open to the public, and they can track the areas that are getting help and still need it. They will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. (Work is ongoing after 2 p.m. but the Volunteer Center is only open until 2 p.m. each day.)

The Volunteer Coordination Center is located at 885 Memorial Drive at the Spalding County Senior Center.

Please call 678-453-4508 with questions or simply show up to volunteer. Volunteers will be available to answer your call from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Distribution Center - 220 East Solomon Street

Pike County Times spoke with Warren East at the Distribution Center located at 220 Memorial Drive. He is the City Engagement Pastor for City Church. He is also a volunteer with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).

East gave a tour of the Distribution Center that was set up to help with collection and distribution of supplies for victims of tornado.

“This is our future building,” East said. They were supposed to be in the building as their new church at this time, he said, but God knew this was needed as a distribution center for tornado victims.

140 volunteers were part of a group effort that had distributed 37 tons of food to approximately 400 people who represented 2,002 family members in households.

The day that I walked up to the Distribution Center, they were serving soup. Volunteers were also standing out by the road directing traffic, helping load and unload vehicles that came through, were sorting, weighing, and tracking donated items that were moved from one side of the facility to the other, and volunteers were acting as personal shoppers to help storm victims pick out needed items.

If you are wanting to donate here’s a list of what’s needed right now. Please Note that everything has to be new--including blankets—for them to be able to accept it at the Distribution Center. [Note from the Editor: There may be organizations that will accept clean, used blankets, but there is so much going on in Griffin that I don’t have any information on everything that everyone is doing.]

-body wash/bar soap
-shampoo -diapers including sizes 4+
-new towels
-new washcloths

Volunteers are also needed at the Distribution Center. The Distribution Center will be open for drop off and pick up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (This will be evaluated at the end of the week as to hours of operation for the following week.)

They are accepting non-perishable food items, gift cards, toiletries, and other personal items. NO CLOTHES.

The Distribution Center is located at 220 East Solomon Street in Griffin.

To volunteer at the Distribution Center, you can go to the Volunteer Coordination Center located at the Senior Center at 885 Memorial Drive, call 678-453-4508, or text the word "VOLUNTEER" to 770-800-0765.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

There were many different organizations working within the EOC. Like putting pieces of a puzzle together, these groups were working from their area of expertise together as part of the group to help those who have been affected by these tornadoes.

Spalding Call Center

There was a table of volunteers who had laptops, lists, maps, and more around them as they answered calls coming into the 678-453-4508 phone number.

The dry erase board behind them showed the Distribution Center hours and suggestions for donations, how to donate money and goods, where to direct volunteers, where to find shelter, food, a provider of laundry services, animal control, public feedings, and information for Samaritan’s Purse which is operating in Spalding County at the time of this article.

Those pictured above did not want their names listed in the picture, but they were gracious enough to let me snap a really quick picture as they took care of the needs of each caller. They were content to serve the community one person at a time!

To volunteer at the Call Center, call 678-453-4508.

Emergency Management Agency (EMA)

James Westbrook is the EMA Director at Kennesaw State University. He and his wife Katy, who is a volunteer and has helped with the local Hazard Mitigation Plan, were flying over Spalding County taking part in an assessment when Pike County Times went to the EOC. Photos of James and Katy coming in from their part of the assessment of aerial damage including the need for tarps.

Other EMA leaders and volunteers from Spalding, Pike, Coweta, and Georgia EMA were present and conducting assessments as well.

Pictured are James and Katy Westbrook getting out of the helicopter. In the standing picture, Spalding EMA Director Glenn Polk, GEMA Area 4 Field Coordinator Jason Ritter, and Chris Johnson of SDR, a disaster debris management service specialist.

Georgia Defense Force

Members of the Georgia Defense Force were in a room at the EOC as well as out in the community. Those present at the time were managing, coordinating, and live tracking the work that was being done by crews throughout the community.

Two crews were out checking culverts to ensure that they were unclogged and did not flood from the rains that we have received in our area this week. Others were using chainsaws to clear fallen trees at Griffin High School. They do not use heavy equipment, but chainsaws are a mainstay for them. GIS tracking showed locations and work that was being done.

These volunteers pay for everything associated with their volunteer work for the Georgia Defense Force including the uniforms that they wear. http://gasdf.com

Spalding County Chamber of Commerce

The Spalding County Chamber of Commerce has been in charge of feeding the many people who are working in this endeavor to take care of storm victims. On Monday, they send out 415 meals to various groups around the county. At that time, donations had come from as far away as Cobb, Marietta, and Covington.

The Griffin-Spalding Chamber is coordinating hot meals for first responders. Call or text 770-597-7916 for more information or if you would like to help, they are in current need of snack foods and quick meals. They also need boxes to transport food to various locations.

Pictured are Cindy Jones - Spalding President, Alison Pollard – Membership Director, Wanda Smallwood – Admin, and Chamber Member Jennifer Hall from Jake Stanley’s office.

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan's Purse is providing disaster relief in Griffin. Volunteers will work Monday - Saturday. Both teams and individuals are welcome. (This is pulled from their website.)

Minimum Age: Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age or older. Youth, ages 14-15, must be accompanied by their parent/legal guardian and youth, ages 16-17, must be accompanied by an adult chaperone unless the team is registered as a youth group. Youth groups may serve with Samaritan’s Purse and are required to complete a Youth Leader Covenant.

Local / Day Volunteers: If you are local to the area, we welcome you to serve for the day. Please contact our site at 470-217-0652 at least 24 hours in advance to be scheduled to serve. Please arrive at our host location: Oak Hill Baptist Church, 100 Lakeside Road, Williamson, GA 30292. Orientation takes place at 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. Volunteers will work Monday - Saturday, beginning Sunday, January 15, 2022 at 12:30pm. Day volunteers will need to bring a bagged lunch, water, and hand sanitizer.

Day volunteers are welcome to serve any day, Monday through Saturday, without being scheduled for a specific date. Due to the nature of disaster relief, our schedule must remain fluid. We recommend that you contact the site 24 hours in advance, prior to serving.

[Note from the Editor: A volunteer who helped with Samaritan's Purse advised me that the group will be in Griffin through February 11.]

Click here for more information.

Insurance Commissioner King Deploys Staff to Spalding County in Response to Severe Weather

Following the disaster declaration for Butts, Henry, Jasper, Meriwether, Newton, Spalding, and Troup counties, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King announced today that he is deploying agency staff to set up a Catastrophe Claims Village to assist Georgians who have been impacted by recent severe weather.

At the Catastrophe Claims Village, policyholders can meet face-to-face with professionals in the insurance industry who can help them file a claim or answer any insurance-related questions they may have. The Catastrophe Claims Village will include representatives from the Georgia Department of Insurance, major insurance carriers including Allstate, Auto-Owners, Georgia Farm Bureau, State Farm, USAA, and others.

Members of Commissioner King’s Criminal Investigations Division will also be on hand to investigate any potential fraudulent activity and educate residents on how to protect themselves from post-disaster insurance scams.

The village will be held at the Spalding County Senior Center at 885 Memorial Drive in Griffin this Wednesday, January 25th, and Thursday, January 26th, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Georgians who are unable to attend the event are encouraged to call our Consumer Services Hotline for assistance at 1-800-656-2298, available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Click here to see the post on the original website.


There were so many people working together on Monday, and many are still working to help in this clean up endeavor while taking care of residents who have been affected by the storm. There are many ways to help for those living outside of affected areas in Spalding and for those living outside of Spalding County.

For those who would like to make a donation to the Griffin-Spalding Tornado Relief Fund 2023, click here.

This is not going to be a short-term project that will be completed in a few short weeks, and everything will go back to normal. This is going to be a long-term project that involves taking care of people and working toward a new normal that will show a county and surrounding communities that will be stronger and stand together in future events because of this storm.

[Note from the Editor: Thank you to Pike EMA Volunteer Teri Totten for obtaining permission for Pike County Times to visit the EOC and for escorting me around to get pictures and talk to everyone.]

[Note from the Editor: Large photos are on the Pike County Times Facebook page. If you would like your photo and you do not have Facebook, please drop me an email, and I'll be happy to send it to you.]