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St Simons refugees from the hurricane find themselves lending a helping hand in Big Canoe
using a hack saw to clear a fallen red oak from Columbine Drive. Resident Alan Lee brought
out his chain saw lending it to finish the job. PHOTO BY BENNETT WHIPPLE

Irma downs trees, knocks out power as storm whips through Big Canoe

This article will be updated as needed

By Laura Link, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

**Update**

Irma topples 500-700 trees in Big Canoe

At the end of the day Tuesday, Sept. 12, much had been accomplished in cleaning up Hurricane Irma’s destruction but much remained to be done on the 85 miles of roads in Big Canoe.

With the estimated 500 – 700 downed trees on roads and properties, the work was overwhelming for all the Public Works and Public Safety employees and their chain saws and brawn. By mid-Tuesday morning, the crews had one lane of every road cleared of trees and debris for emergency vehicles to pass through if needed. Cove Road going to Jasper will be closed Wednesday for debris removal. A detour using Highway 53 can be used instead.

The shelter at The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti that sheltered stranded people Monday night was closed with the opening of the roads Tuesday. Trees hanging precariously over some roads, known as “widow makers,” were a job among others for Wednesday’s continued cleanup and tree removal.

Those that didn’t heed the instructions to fill containers of water for cooking, bathing and flushing prior to the arrival of the tropical storm found a hiss and a drip from faucets as the water company’s pumping station stopped when the power in certain areas of Big Canoe went out. A notice was sent out late Tuesday to property owners by the water company that a hose to fill water containers was available at the pumping station on Whitley Road off Cove Road. It is a bring your own containers and do it yourself operation. A three-minute boil water is in place once the pumps are up and water begins to flow in homes – possibly several days.

All Big Canoe amenities are closed for a third day, Wednesday, and only necessary contractors are being allowed inside the gates while the cleanup is in progress.

Property owners and visitors who came north to escape the hurricane are asked to stay off the roads in Big Canoe until they can be properly cleared. The slick green leaves sticking to pavement are also a slippery hazard for drivers.

**End of Update Tuesday night, Sept. 12**

 

Hurricane Irma upped its wind and rains as it pushed through Big Canoe Monday evening, Sept. 11, bringing down too many trees across roads to count in the night hours.

As wind gusts increased Monday night, Lt. Todd Lanning, fire supervisor on duty, and his entire public safety crew plus all maintenance crews on hand were pulled from tree clearing as a safety precaution when gusts exceeded 40 mph.

 BC Hurricane Damage 002    BC Hurricane Damage 004
 PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS    PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS
BC Hurricane Damage 013     BC Hurricane Damage 008

Pat Jarrett, dispatcher for Big Canoe, arrived for work
Monday morning at 7 a.m. and was still on the job
Tuesday all day, having slept on a lounge chair at Fire
Station 3 in the village. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

 

At the fire station Tuesday morning, Sept. 12, Gary
Rhodus, left, Chief Ricky Jordan and Lt. Lincoln Hett
mark the board where trees have been cleared on
blocked roads in Big Canoe. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

A shelter was established at The Clubhouse on Lake Sconti—without power later in the day—Monday for people unable to reach their houses due to downed trees. Persons who spent the night in the clubhouse included one person who at the height of the storm, went out to the store and another went out to look around. By Tuesday morning three people, including one unnamed POA board member and one person with medical issues, found themselves in a shelter that had no electricity.

Big Canoe’s dispatcher worked around the clock Monday and into Tuesday, sleeping on a lounge chair overnight in the fire station while the firemen had sleeping quarters established in the building.

At 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Lt. Lincoln Hett was at the stove in the temporary Fire Station 3 in the village preparing breakfast not only for his entire crew of firemen but food and two pots of coffee to transport to the sheltered people at the clubhouse—still without power.

three trees down 1   three trees down 2   three trees down 3
PHOTO BY NICOLE HELLER   PHOTO BY NICOLE HELLER   PHOTO BY NICOLE HELLER

Land line phones, cable TV and electricity in sections of Big Canoe, including water pumping stations, on the property were knocked out. The water dept. notified property owners (who had electricity) that Amicalola Electric Co. was working to restore power to the pumping stations.

Chain saws filled the porch of the temporary fire station, located in the interior of the former retail decorating store and Wild Onion restaurant. At daylight, all maintenance employees, including golf, and firemen fired up the saws and trucks and began sawing their way from the gates up the main roads in Big Canoe.

wake robin tree down

Nicole Heller and four members of her family came to Big Canoe from Naples, Florida on
Friday, Sept. 8 seeking shelter from Irma with family members Bob and Diane Smith.
They stayed in the Smith’s Plummer cabin on Wake Robin Road safe from the storm,
even though three trees came down near the cabin. PHOTO BY NICOLE HELLER.

Tuesday morning without counting, it was estimated well over 50 trees were down on roads. Monday night a tree was reported on a house and another on a garage but no injuries.

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, a Big Canoe resident with a business in Jasper reported that Cove Road was not passable.

Lt. Chip Rice, supervisor for the Tuesday fire shift, urged people to stay off the roads until all damage is cleared. Emergency calls should be placed to 911.

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