Hurricane Sightseers causing traffic problems

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 16, 2004

Ivan left many downed trees and power lines in his wake, but the most danger following the storm was not leaning trees or live power lines, the danger was from curious sightseers wanting to get a look at Ivan’s wrath.

“We just urge people if they don’t have to be in certain areas, don’t got there,” Demopolis acting police chief Jeff Manuel said. “We’ve had a lot of people out on the roads trying to get a look at the damage, and they’re basically hindering things.”

Manuel said crews have been working hard trying to clear roads and restore power.

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“We’ve had a lot of downed trees,” he said. “We haven’t really had a chance to assess structural damage, we’ve just been trying to clear the roads.”

Other than road that may be blocked from downed trees, Manuel said there were no road closings as of early Thursday evening.

He said he hoped things would be “somewhat normal” by Friday, but said residents should not expect everything to be back to normal that soon.

No injuries from the storm were reported to Manuel or the hospital.

“That’s good,” Manuel said.

Mike Marshall, administrator of Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital, said they had not seen any injuries from the storm, but said they had opened the hospital to its employees and their families.

“We opened it to those employees who would need to be here in an emergency, the doctors and nurses, X-ray technicians and other urgent care personnel,” he said. “We didn’t want them to be working and worrying about their families or vice versa.”

About 58 employees and their families stayed at the hospital Wednesday night, and were treated to a free meal Thursday.

“We also fed the fire department and police department,” Marshall said. “Most of them were already up here anyway, but we didn’t want them worrying about trying to find something to eat.”

Now the storm is gone, Manuel warned residents to beware of scams.

“People will probably come into the area and pose as contractors or say insurance companies sent them. Before anyone pays someone to clean up their yard, check them out first,” he said. Despite the warning, Manuel said many residents will still get taken.

“A lot of people will get bit,” he said.

Overall, Manuel said the storm management went well.

“I am very proud of all the city employees, we came together and got things done,” he said.