DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Folks who attended Thursday’s Dawson County Board of Commissioners work session couldn’t help but leave with a greater appreciation for the county’s Public Safety and Public Works personnel.
Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford and Public Safety Works Director David McKee gave a pretty good account of what it took to get the county back to normal after the severe thunderstorm that rumbled through Tuesday evening, knocking out power to about 4,000 residences, damaging a dozen or more structures and multiple vehicles, downing scores of trees and blocking some 50 city or county roadways.
Swafford said two 9-1-1 operators answered more than 500 calls in about a two-hour period.
Public Works Director David McKee said he had taken refuge in the basement of his home during the height of the storm.
“I didn’t have cell phone service so when I came upstairs, Lanier was blowing up my phone,” McKee said. “I threw on some clothes and left and we immediately started deploying equipment and people in a bunch of different directions to get the roads open. If it has power lines on it, we don’t touch it. We caught a lot of grief about it but that’s a matter of safety. We had 14 people working until 3 or 4 in the morning. But when I came in (to the office) that morning, all our roads were back open but one.”
Swafford said, “I can’t say enough about the Sheriff’s Office, Public Works, the 9-1-1 Center and our staff for the service they gave. We probably had 50 city or county roads blocked during the storm.” He noted that roads being blocked is more than just an inconvenience. “If there is an emergency, we can’t get to them.”
He also gave credit to the utility companies. “Those guys gave 110 percent,” he said. “They put in a lot of hours to get the power restored.”
Of the homes that were damaged, Swafford said only three were considered serious and all homeowners had insurance. One home was struck by lightning but it didn’t ignite a fire.
“The best news,” Swafford added, “is that to our knowledge, there were no injuries to civilians or staff.”