Houston & Peach

Irma responders recognized for unified effort

Houston thanks those who responded to Irma

The Houston County Commission on Tuesday recognized more than 100 people who responded to Tropical Storm Irma.
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The Houston County Commission on Tuesday recognized more than 100 people who responded to Tropical Storm Irma.

More than 100 people involved with the response to Tropical Storm Irma in Houston County were recognized for their efforts Tuesday.

Deputies, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, power linemen, public works employees and others were honored at the County Commission meeting. Mayors and police chiefs from all three cities in the county were also there. Officials said those in attendance represented only a small fraction of the actual force that assisted with the storm.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker and others lauded the cooperative effort between the agencies in handling the storm that dealt widespread damage across the county and the rest of the state.

“It was an outstanding job by each and every person that had anything to do with the Irma response,” Stalnaker said. “The men and women that gave their time in this cause was service above self.”

Robbie Dunbar, the county’s director of operations, said all of the public works department was involved in clearing roads that day. He said that included even people who ordinarily didn’t do that work, including those who maintain buildings and the water system.

“They all grabbed chainsaws, they all got on tractors, they all went to work,” he said. “I’m very proud of the effort that they showed that day.”

He said that by nightfall the only roads that were not open were those blocked by trees tangled in power lines. He said there were a total of 167 locations were trees were in roadways.

Sheriff Cullen Talton said many of the deputies had chainsaws in their patrol cars and removed trees from roads.

“They didn’t mind one bit,” Talton said. “I never heard one fuss.”

Stalnaker handed the leader of each agency a commemorative item that had the words “We survived together, Hurricane Irma, Sept. 11, 2017” etched in glass. A total of 16 organizations were recognized. Those were Robins Air Force Base, Flint Energies, Georgia Power, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia National Fairgrounds, Houston County Medical Center and Emergency Medical Service, Houston County Sheriff’s Office, E-911, Houston County Public Works, Houston County Health Department, the Houston County Fire Department and Emergency Management Agency and the cities of Warner Robins, Centerville and Perry.

“There’s a lot of people that came together for this event and they worked together, and that’s reason that together we survived,” Stalnaker said.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1