From the time the first alarm went out in the wee hours Sunday morning, calls began going to the Georgia State Patrol headquarters in Toccoa, Stephens County, sheriffâ€™s office, and numerous other agencies. â€œPlease, what can we do to help?â€ they all asked. (â€œWe Want to Help, â€˜Wellwishers Call In.â€ The Daily News, Athens Georgia. Vol. 13, No. 218, November 7, 1977)
By the time the sun came up to throw an eerie light over the scene of devastation, rescue units, highway forces, city repair crews, Red Cross workers, the Salvation Army, power company linemen, firemen and utility workers of all kinds were hard at work in the rain and mud of what had been a small community of small homes and happy children.
By the Sunday school hour classrooms were giving way to shelters and homes were being provided for the students and staff of Toccoa Falls Bible College. Our local hospital went into immediate action. The hospital sits on a high bluff overlooking the scene of devastation. Blockage of a bridge on the only highway to the hospital made it necessary for emergency vehicles, doctors and nurses to make a long ten-mile detour to reach the hospital from Toccoa. In spite of this difficulty the doctors and nurses came and working under emergency power they cared for over 40 injured who were brought in. Both local radio stations went on the air early and by mid-morning command posts had been set up. As far away as Atlanta the Red Cross was fully mobilized and stood ready to lend knowledge and great skills to this emergency situation.
Our Governor arrived in work clothes and plunged into the muddy scene. Our Presidentâ€™s lovely wife came as quickly as she could and by noon there was suspended above that tragic scene a great Rainbow made up of every color in the human heart. There was concern and compassion, there was heartache and helpfulness. Patience and prayers mingled together and hearts and hands were extended in a great outreach of love. (â€œSounds of the Times with Samuel M. Inman.â€ The Toccoa Record, Thursday, November 10, 1977.)
We saw men who had lost their wives and children. We saw parents who had lost all their children. We saw people who had nothing left except the clothes they were wearing. The faith of these people is unbelievable. They believe it was Godâ€™s will and they are ready to accept it and pick up the pieces and build their lives again. If anything, it seems their faith has been strengthened by this adversity. There were many acts of generosity by the merchants and families in Toccoa.
I talked with one man who lives in the unaffected area. He had drawn out all his ready cash and he was there giving money to flood victims. He said, â€œSuddenly, it has become clear to me that money doesnâ€™t really mean anything.â€ His entire family and home were safe and that was all that was important. (â€œâ€™Diary of a Disasterâ€™ Tells of the Aftermathâ€ by Lois Hopkins. The Winder News, November 9, 1977.)
|Section 1, In Darkness and Dawn||Section 3, A Week Later|