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Dawson organizations send volunteers, supplies to aid hurricane victims in Texas
Church groups, businesses to collect "flood buckets"
Hurricane Harvey
Red Cross worker Katrina Dirscherl talks with Oralia Guerra and Diamond Robinson as they huddle together to stay warm underneath Red Cross blankets at the George Brown Convention Center on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. - photo by MCT

Dawson County businesses, churches, schools, nonprofits and volunteers are rallying this week in the aftermath of one of the country’s most devastating natural disasters in years.

Less than a week after hurricane winds and rain pummeled Houston, Texas, organizations across the country and all the way in Dawson County are working to provide victims relief from the storm, which made landfall late last Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has since lingered just off the coast, taunting the city with more rain.

Right now, donations are pouring in and relief organizations are attempting to get the word out about what is most helpful for the victims of the devastating floods.

Volunteers are number one right now, as Houston and the surrounding areas are still in the search and rescue and damage surveying stage.

Dawson County Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford in an email Thursday wrote that as host of the Georgia K9 Task Force, his office received an active standby for deployment to Texas from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Assistant Chief Danny Speaks as well as DCES K9 volunteer members Carson Chin and Dave Adkins were readied for deployment, but as of Wednesday night, officials in Texas have said “they have filled all of their request for aid that they have a need for right now.”

Should the need arise for more teams, GEMA will notify DCES, Swafford wrote.

Dawsonville’s Amicalola Propane sent three trucks down to Texas on Aug. 24 to help keep cell towers running.

Tim Timmers with Amicalola Propane said that when electricity is out, cell towers run off propane-powered generators. Cell tower companies pay propane companies to keep the towers running so that emergency services can communicate.

The Federal Emergency Management Association called the emergency rescue company, which communicated with Amicalola Propane about where the need was located, Timmers said.

Timmers said that three  trucks with three drivers: Amicalola Propane owner Matthew Richardson, driver Casey Rickett and driver Rob Alexander, are making their way back now through Mississippi and New Orleans after a week of helping keep cell towers online.

Volunteers with nonprofit organizations such as churches and the Red Cross have also sent, and will be sending, volunteers.

“The American Red Cross has sent six volunteers and one staff [member] who are in Texas, with others likely on the way,” said Laura Allen, executive director of Northeast Georgia’s Red Cross. “We’re thankful for the dedication of volunteers who are willing to help those in need, and [those] who would like to volunteer with the Red Cross can visit”

Allen added while locals may want to provide food or clothing, those items often do more harm than good because it “takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected.”

Financial donations are most useful if volunteering is not an option, but some local groups are working to gather basic supplies like water and “flood buckets.”

Brian Haas, a pastor at Mountain Lake Church, said that the group is working through Samaritan’s Purse to help provide what Houston residents need. Samaritan’s Purse is a domestic and international relief organization.

Haas said flood buckets — 5-gallon Lowe’s or Home Depot buckets that contain cleaning supplies — have been welcomed by flood victims in the past.

“We headed up a team that went to Louisiana last year when the Baton Rouge [floods] happened and brought flood relief buckets,” said Haas, whose church meets each Sunday at the Dawson Regal Cinemas. “Every resident and homeowner we handed the [buckets] to was appreciative. Of course, we’ll take all sorts of donations, but those are what people really can use.”

“In the upcoming weeks, we’ll probably take several trips to [Texas] to see where we’re needed, but Houston is probably the main focus point,” Haas said. “It’s looking like the week of Sept. 18.”

Gold Creek Foods, another Dawsonville business, is working to collect flood buckets as well.

The business will have trailers at three locations in Dawsonville set up early next week for people to drop off flood buckets. The trailers will be set up at city hall, Dawson County High School and at Gold Creek Foods on Hwy. 9 N, according to Lynne Barber.

Dates and times are forthcoming.

Is your organization helping with relief for those affected by Harvey? Let us know by sending an email to

Dawson County News regional staff writer Isabel Hughes contributed to this report.

How to assemble a flood bucket

The United Methodist Committee on Relief recommends these supplies:

  • 5-gallon bucket with resealable lid
    • Buckets from fast-food restaurants or bakeries can be used if washed and cleaned
    • Do not use buckets that have stored chemicals such as paint or pool cleaner
    • Advertisements on the outside are acceptable
  • Liquid laundry detergent
    • One 50-oz. or two 25-oz. bottle(s) only
  • Liquid household cleaner
    • 12‐16 oz. liquid cleaner that can be mixed with water
    • No spray cleaners
  • Dish soap
    • 16‐28 oz. bottle any brand
  • 1 can air freshener
    • Aerosol or pump
  • 1 insect repellant spray
    • 6‐14 oz. aerosol or spray pump with protective cover
  • 1 scrub brush
    • Plastic or wooden handle
  • 18 cleaning wipes
    • Handi Wipes or reusable wipes
    • No terry cleaning towels
    • Remove from packaging
  • 7 sponges
    • No cellulose sponges due to mold issues
    • Remove from wrapper
  • 5 scouring pads
    • Remove from wrapper
    • No stainless steel, Brillo pads, or SOS pads (nothing with soap built in)
  • 50 clothespins
  • Clothesline
    • One 100-ft. or two 50-ft. lines
    • Cotton or plastic
  • 24-roll heavy-duty trash bags
    • 33‐ to 45-gallon sizes
    • Remove from the box
  • 5 dust masks
  • 2 pairs kitchen dishwashing gloves
    • Should be durable enough for multiple uses
    • Remove from packaging
  • 1 pair work gloves
    • Cotton with leather palm or all leather

Assembly Directions

Place all liquid items in the bucket first. Place remaining items in the bucket, fitting them around and between the liquid items. Sponges, scouring pads, clothespins, and trash bags can be separated in order to fit all of the items in the bucket. Ensure the lid is closed securely.

Important Notes

  • All items must be new except for the actual bucket and lid.
  • All cleaning agents must be liquid and in plastic containers. No powders, please.
  • If you cannot find the requested size of a liquid item, use a smaller size. Including larger sizes of any item will prevent the lid from sealing.
  • If all of the items on the list are not included, please put a label on the bucket indicating what has been omitted.

Packing & Shipping Instructions

  • Box Weight: Each packed box cannot exceed 66 pounds.
  • Complete 2 packing lists: one for your records and one to put on the shipping box.
  • Paste the shipping label / packing list on the outside of each box you send. The shipping list helps the depot to quickly process kits.
  • Processing & Shipping Costs: Please enclose an envelope containing at least $1.50 for each kit you send. This donation enables kits to be sent to areas in need.