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Georgia was one of the original thirteen states of the former United States of America. It is located on the Atlantic coast between former states of South Carolina and Alabama and above Florida. Its capital was Atlanta.
Georgia was founded as a province by royal charter in 1732, with General James Oglethorpe as acting governor for the first two years after his leading the first 113 settlers to what would become Savannah.
Becoming a colony of the British government in 1752, when the trustees could no longer subsidize the settlements. Georgia continued to be useful as a "buffer colony" between the Carolinas and Florida (then ruled by the Spanish).
During the Civil War, Georgia played a key part in the western theater and the Battle of Atlanta is considerd by some as the turning point in the war. Many of the South's exceptional generals such as John B. Gordon, William J. Hardee, and Joseph Wheeler were Georgians.
In modern times, Georgia became the heart of the "New South," with Atlanta being a world class city. Politically, the state had been part of the "solid south" since the American Civil War. This prominence finally paid off nationally as former Governor James Earl "Jimmy" Carter was elected president of the United States in 1976. Though he had played a pivotal role in brokering peace between Israel and Egypt, it would be the radical government of far away Iran that would define his presidency. After one term, he was defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Georgia's new governor (having taken office in January), Joe Frank Harris, perished in Atlanta while trying to inform the state's residents of the coming danger. It has been reported that truckers had heard him take to the public bands of their CB radios after the EMP had knocked out ordinary radio transmissions. Members of his staff, including Lt. Governor Zell Miller, escaped to Athens and Rome. Former governor Carter, however, escaped the metro area through the help of the secret service who still kept an eye on the former president.
All of the major cities of Georgia were targets on September 25, 1983 - Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, Augusta and Savannah. In addition there were strikes on military installations near Albany and Hinesville. These latter strikes were of low-yield nuclear devices, however, leaving much of the populations of those towns as surviving refugees fleeing to nearby towns. Much of Albany's downtown area was destroyed, but the direct casualties were only in the southeast corner (east of the Flint River). As prevailing winds brought the resulting fallout across the state towards the coast, local communities began to brace themselves to "rough it" for the duration.
In the northwest, Rome was in a pocket of civilization surrounded by the chaos of three major strikes, refugees from Chattanooga, Birmingham and Atlanta made it to this college town built on seven hills. Under the direction of Zell Miller, a regional government was set up, assuming the worst for the established government in Atlanta. Without power, life was chaotic, but the Miller's government was able to establish order before the end of the week.
Meanwhile, up in the other corner of the state, survivors from Atlanta and Augusta began to gather in Athens - the cultural and educational center of the area. The demographics there proved disastrous as series of three provisional governors lost their lives trying to keep the peace.
Down on the coast, between Savannah and Brunswick, the small town of Darien became home to hundreds of refugees from the Hinesville area, as well as thousands from the Savannah area. The folk of McIntosh county proved to be cordial hosts, even when the guests outnumbered them three to one.
Athens, Georgia fell in 1986. Survivors of the tragic attempt at self-government there ended up migrating to Toccoa and across the river into the Piedmont of South Carolina.
The survivors in Darien were found by the WRCB in 2009 to have developed a culture of their own, but they were not forthcoming as to any knowledge of other survivors in the state. The WCRB teams had continued up the coast to the Savannah River after only a short visit there.
Cuban forces, having traveling up the Apalachicola River, had missed thriving communities just out of sight on both sides of the Chattahoochee River on the way to their first portage at Ft. Gaines (an abandoned town that had been stripped of its meager goods as residents sought to survive those first few years). The expedition had docked their boats and taken motorcycles with side cars and trailers in search of resources to serve the struggling government of their homeland. Having purposely chosen troops of "Anglo" appearance, the Cubans had been able to effortless blend in with the small towns they passed through. It was the abandoned towns that they had been interested in.
One such abandoned town, Americus, held an international treasure in an unusual place -- the glove compartment of an abandoned vehicle at the Skyland Motel. It was a hand-written copy of the original formula for Coca Cola! This was to become the "national treasure" of the "Pride of the Caribbean."
Meanwhile, a little south of Americus, on US Highway 19, the tiny town of Smithville had become the new home of Jimmy Carter and his staff. A safe distance from the large blasts over both Ft. Benning and Warner Robbins, and also from the much smaller blast outside of Albany, Carter was able to set up an emergency headquarters at the village's town hall. He had been appalled at the conditions of Americus by the time he arrived there on his hurried trip out of Atlanta. The secret service detail, however, had thought it best that he seek safety in a place largely unknown by the enemy.
As the Cubans quietly returned to Ft. Gaines and their boats to home, a former naval officer from Plains set out to rebuild his beloved state.
For Such a Time as This
Though the secret service had chosen Smithville as the safe haven for Carter and his family, he was close enough to his hometown to be considered "home." Being a small southern town, much of the infrastructure was still based on hardwired appliances not effected by the EMP that had paralyzed the nation. By the time diesel and gasoline powered generators began to run low in fuel, local power had begun to flow from the practically new hydro-electric plant in Newton. This was largely due to the co-operation of the Georgia Power engineers working with Carter's staff to get relay stations and transformers up and running in all of southwest Georgia.
With power available on a limited basis, much of life began to return to "normal." Of course what would be considered "normal" in fast-paced Atlanta, was far from the normal of Smithville, or even Albany. What was normal in Albany and nearby Dawson, though, was racial strife. Even into the eighties, much of the historical inequities had remained. One place, though, that Carter knew he could go to seek solutions to this dilemma was Koinonia Farms, a Christian community eight miles southeast of Americus. The community had been far enough away from Americus to avoid being ransacked as the town had been in the days following the loss of power and other services. Its inhabitants had been inconvenienced by the loss of power and communication, but had learned to be self-sufficient in the community's four decades in existence.
Carter was glad to find his old friend Millard Fuller had escaped the chaos in Americus to the quiet surrounding at Koinonia. It had been there that Fuller had met the community's founder Clarence Jordan in the 1960's. Jordan, in fact, had been the uncle to Carter's chief of staff, Hamilton Jordan - just one more link to the area that Carter found to be a godsend in the effort to rebuild. In 1976, the same year Carter had been elected president of the United States, Fuller had returned from building houses in Africa to found Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Georgia. After leaving office, Carter had established the Carter Center in Atlanta - a work now in ashes due to multiple megatons of explosions over that city -- but his next project had already been in the works. That was to partner with Fuller in his ministry.
Though Fuller's vision for an international impact was now shattered, the need for housing for the poor and struggling had increased tremendously. Gone was the profiteering of the "Housing Industry." The banking system was history as well. What was needed now was exactly what Fuller had envisioned -- houses built by neighbors and for neighbors. The materials, expertise and labor were all to be donated if south Georgia was to rise from the dust to once more take its place among the nations of the world.
As Jimmy Carter worked with the people in the small towns of southwest Georgia, he was amazed to find that the spiritual roots that Clarence Jordan had tapped into a half-century before ran deeper than anyone imagined. Though still largely self-segregated, the African-Americans held very little animosity to their white neighbors. For the most part, the white community's chief complaint was that the black community was "living off" the government. Now neither community had a "life-line" to the government, and the needs of both remained basic -- food, water, and shelter. These things were quite available to all, if they would only learn the most basic lesson of human relations: share with each other. That had been key to the success of Koinonia Farms. And it proved crucial in the rebuilding of society on both sides of the Chattahoochee River.
One ally that Carter found in his effort was a fellow Southern Baptist from nearby Parrott, a young minister that had just taken a call to the historic Parrott Baptist Church. In a one street town with an old train station, John Martin had just returned from visiting a friend's church in Americus that fateful night that the bombs fell and the lights went out. Martin had graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1979 after getting a degree in Americus in history in 1976. During the week he taught history in Crisp County -- two counties over on the other side of Albany. His sister Sharon was a student in Americus, also studying to be a teacher. On Tuesday, September 27, 1983, he had still not been in contact with his parents in Albany. That evening two pulpwood trucks pulled into the parsonage yard.
One was driven by John's dad, Henry, with his baby brother Billy and his mom Becky. The other was driven by a middle aged black man with his wife and two children squeezed in the cab. The elder Martin had boarded up the racks and turned the trucks into moving vans. The word from Albany was that the area was total chaos. It would take something like the National Guard to keep the peace. No National Guard had shown up. Martin Pulpwood Company's wood yard was on the east side of Albany and its wooden buildings had been flattened, or so it was assumed, for Henry had not been able to contact anyone to make sure. The second truck had made it over to Lee County even as the mushroom cloud had lit up the night sky in its rear view window. Jesse Johnson had heard the warning to leave the city and figured his boss's house was about as far as he could get.
Henry Martin knew the Smithville area well, and had suggested that perhaps the family could resettle there. He knew that several land owners that had sold stands of pine to him for pulpwood. He had a few crews that had been working the area for months. John had told him they were welcome to stay in Parrott, but that he could not leave his church. He also had still held out hope of recontacting the school in Sylvester. By October 1st, though, he had helped his dad, mom, and five-year-old Billy move into a vacant house in Smithville. It was then that he learned that Jimmy Carter had moved to town.
Through Americus connections, who had fled to Smithville as well, John was able to get through to talk to the former president. As a historian, he was fascinated with the turn of events. As Carter spoke of what he had learned, Martin began to speculate about the necessity of some sort of temporary state government to bring order to Albany and other areas that were adversely affected by the nuclear exchange. They knew that Ft. Benning had been hit, and of course Atlanta. Observers had also seen the cloud and flash up toward Macon. Carter, on the other hand, was actually more excited about what Fuller had started. What had once been an international plan had become a matter of survival as the winter approached. As a nuclear physicist, he fully expected a "nuclear winter" to overtake them very soon. Nevertheless, he agreed to head up a committee to develop a government before the next summer was over.
With the help of Jesse Johnson, Henry Martin set up a wood yard on the outskirts of Smithville. From there, the pulpwood trucks became "log trucks," hauling logs destined to become the homes of hundreds of Georgians before the summer of 1984 was over. One day a week, though, smaller trees were harvested and turned into firewood, which became an alternate fuel for the anticipated long winter ahead. Fortunately for Georgia and the rest of the world, the "nuclear winter" never came. The stockpile of firewood, though, would assure Martin and his family a good "currency" in the coming years as citizens from miles around would trade all matter of food and supplies for a reliable heating source. The logs his company trimmed to Fuller's specs, though, assured him that his daughter would graduate in the reopened school in Americus only about eighteen months later than planned. Sharon Martin, 19, had become friends with Amy Carter, then 16, and was instrumental in getting the former president's daughter interested in early childhood education. Part of that influence had been the times that little Billy Martin had played in the Carters' yard. It is not every first-grader who has secret service agents to protect him!
During this same time, chaos reigned on the Atlantic coast. Bombs in and around Jacksonville, Florida, sent clouds of irradiated dust up the coast on winds driven by the tropical storm hundreds of miles off shore. Brunswick, Georgia, and nearby resort town of Jekyll Island were evacuated as panic increased. Seeing clouds rising in the north, most people had headed inland, across the uninhabited Okefenokee Swamp. A few refugees, though, did end up in Darien. It was several years before the officials in Darien had dared to venture far inland themselves, and even as late as 2009 few had even explored the abandoned city of Brunswick.
Thanksgiving Day, 1983, saw many new faces around tables in makeshift refugee camps around Darien. Among those was a introverted young chemist from Jekyll Island by the name of Allen Martin. Separated from his family (now living in Smithville), and not making it very well on his own, he struggled to fit into the new surroundings. In the spring of 1984, as it became evident that surface water sources had become undrinkable, Martin's expertise became indispensable.
More to come ...
In northwest Georgia, the government of Rome and Floyd county had immediately taken action to assure order amidst the chaos. Located nearly equidistant from three major targets -- Atlanta, Chattanooga and Birmingham -- Rome had received many refugees from three state, including Lt. Governor Miller. However, since the population was now drawn from across state lines, the "provisional government" formed in Rome was not a state government, but a regional one. However, with the loss of all modern communications, the formation of a new nation became a real possibility. The mayor of Rome toyed with the idea of calling the nation the "Republic of Rome," but thought that would be far too ambitious of a project to undertake! Besides, when Zell Miller and his staff arrived, it became his duty to "take charge. He sent out messengers to Alabama and Tennessee to see if a regional "nation" could be fashioned. Meanwhile, a new state of Georgia was formed on paper, to be formalized under a new constitution of any regional "nation" that might be formed.
Miller worked with local governmental officials and the Red Cross to establish refugee centers throughout northwest Georgia. The lack of electricity had proved quite inconvenient as had a loss of all electronic communication. By mid-January, 1984, though, contact had been made with other survivors from both Alabama and Tennessee. It seemed that America had survived after all. However, it could be only imagined what had become of the US government in an all-out nuclear exchange. On January 26, 1984, Zell Miller was sworn in the governor of the remnant state of Georgia in full hopes that the United States of America would rise from the ashes. He chose as his Lieutenant Governor the mayor of Rome.
More to come.