Agencies earn praise for work during Ivan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Times-Journal News Editor

There’s still too much work to be done to stop and dole out all of the much-deserved praise to all the people and agencies that helped keep Dallas County safe and running through Hurricane Ivan and the days after.

Still, Emergency Management Director Brett Howard doesn’t want anyone’s hard work to go overlooked.

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“I can’t say enough about sheriff’s and volunteer fire departments,” Howard said. “The Sheriff’s Department, they were out here during the storm and were responding all over this county. They put their lives on the line to help people out. Those volunteer fire units got out there and they worked their tails off and cleared limbs and debris out of the roadways. The County Road Departments wouldn’t be where they’re at today clearing debris and limbs if it wasn’t for those volunteer fire departments, all 15 of them, everyone of them got out there and did it.”

Probate Judge Johnny Jones also had high praise for the work of the volunteer fire departments.

“The volunteer fire departments have just done a tremendous job within their communities,” he said.

“If those folks our there don’t appreciate their volunteer fire department they’d better start, because they are assets to this community,” Howard said.

The praise didn’t stop there.

Howard singled out the work of the Selma Fire Department for their work in the ice distribution program.

“The Selma fire fighters have worked their tails off unloading ice and giving this ice out to people,” he said. “We couldn’t have made this ice distribution without them.”

Howard also had some praise for his staff.

“These two people in here, Pam (Cook) and Mark (Smedley) just made me look good, they held this thing together,” Howard said. “We worked and worked and they were overworked.

Everybody that was represented in this in this EOC they need to be commended. They did an excellent job. They need to get some recognition, they got out there and worked in the storm.”

Another overlooked department was the work done by the 911 Communication Center.

“The 911 Center, with the way it’s operating now, went through flawlessly,” Howard said. “The dispatchers down there did a great job of keeping everything up and coordinating. It surprised me; they surprised a lot of people.

They did a great job.”

Still, not everything went like clockwork.

Jones said the storm has helped Dallas County and the state recognized areas of weakness that will help them better prepare for the next time. Jones and Howard both have been in contact with the governor discussing possible improvements.

“The governor responded to some of our needs during this emergency. We were running into some difficulties as it relates to coordination, (however) he’s been very responsive,” Jones said, “as a matter of fact he just told me that he wanted to include us in the after action report. We can work toward a plan that will make everything flow smoothly. I told the governor that we are more than willing to work with him anyway we could to try and work through some of these areas of concern we had and still have.”