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Pembroke council talks clean up, weather warning
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The city of Pembroke continues efforts to clean up debris and other damages from the violent thunderstorms that blew through the area July 1 and left thousands of people without power.

At Monday’s City Council meeting in City Hall, City Project Manager Ricky McCoy told council members that city workers have been working diligently to remove debris from the storm.

“They’ve picked up approximately 80-100 loads of debris already and they’re still picking up,” McCoy said. “They’ll probably continue to work on it the rest of this week.”

McCoy said several trees fell on homes and buildings in the city.

“We had a mobile home on W.E. Smith Road where a tree fell across and cut it in half,” he said. “We had another tree to fall onto a building on Patrick Street.”

He estimated it would take a few weeks to get the city back in order.

“We’re working and trying to get Pembroke back to normal. It’ll take us a couple of weeks to get back to where we need to be at the least,” he said. “We’ve got canals that have trees down on them and … if we have another storm, these trees would block the flow of water.”

The storm came after the Patriotic Picnic and Concert at First Baptist Church of Pembroke, and city council member Johnnie Miller joked the concert was the “calm before the storm.”

“I’d like to commend Canoochee (EMC) and Georgia Power because I called my cousin up in Maryland and they still don’t have power,” he said. “So they did a good job coming in here and getting power restored.”

Mayor Mary Warnell and other council members commended city workers for preparing the city for the concert and efforts after the storm.

“I think the streets department and all the other departments did a fantastic job prior to the concert in getting ready for the event, and they have done a wonderful job cleaning up quickly and they have really done a lot of work in a short time,” she said.

City Code Enforcement Officer Mike Foxworth also commended city workers, who rode around with workers while the storm was happening.

“I know a lot of times we’ve discussed this, but these guys really did an excellent job,” Foxworth said. “I’ve never seen Pembroke as dark as it was that night and they did an excellent job and need to be commended. There were live wires laying everywhere and they were putting barricades up and doing everything they could to help.”

Pembroke Police Chief Mark Crowe added the storm was also a reminder of why the city needed a weather warning system.

Warnell said Friday the city is working with the county to apply for grant funding for a weather warning system.

According to Bryan County Emergency Services Director William Collins, the county is also working with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to find grant funding.

“What we’re trying to do is apply for grants for Bryan County for two sirens to begin with, one in Pembroke and one in Richmond Hill, but this is just the beginning,” Collins said Friday. “The sirens are not greatly expensive in themselves, but the software to operate them is expensive.”

Collins said the county had been working to obtain grant funding well before this storm ever occurred.

“This storm just showed us what our need was and it’s something we’ve been working on for a while now,” he said. “Grants are competitive but we hope we can add information from the storms that just occurred and what may have happened if we’d had earlier warning and been better prepared.”

In other business:

• Paine Bacon with Savannah based-Holland, Henry and Bromley LLP, gave an audit presentation for fiscal year 2011 and said the city received a “clean opinion,” which is the highest opinion an independent auditor can give.

• The council approved a contract renewal with the Georgia Department of Corrections for the women’s prison detail in the city.

• The council approved a distribution agreement with Bryan County and the city of Richmond Hill for the distribution of the Local Option Sales Tax. Bryan County will receive 57 percent, Richmond Hill 33 percent and Pembroke 10 percent. The breakdown is based on population.

• The council scheduled a budget workshop for 6 p.m. July 30 at City Hall.

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