Southwest Georgia Regional Library System

As businesses in Georgia reopen with strict guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, libraries around the state are still closed to the public. Libraries in southern Georgia are finding a way to meet community needs without fully reopening, but are struggling to provide uninterrupted access for all.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

A shingled-roof, white gazebo sits in the square in downtown Bainbridge. Roslyn Palmer has spent a lot of time there. 

She’s been on the city council for more than 30 years, close to half her life. About a month after Hurricane Michael tore through the southwest, Palmer surveyed the damage it had done to the small town.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” Palmer said. “I hope I don’t see another one like this in my lifetime.”

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

Laura Hutchins was greeted by shattered glass and a tree in the middle of her classroom when she returned to Potter Street Elementary School where she teaches kindergarten. She was heartbroken for her students by what she saw.

“The place that they come to every morning and come running in the door,” Hutchins recalled. “There just really are no words.”

Roslyn Palmer

South Georgia residents are recounting the fear of having to ride out Hurricane Michael as the powerful storm made its way across the state.

Nicole Kirksey in Plains, Thor Ott in McRae, and Kippy Tift and her son, Ray Moody, in Valdosta, shared their experiences, including having to take refuge in a shelter built during the Cold War.