Friday, July 13, 2012

After recent damaging storms - Thank You to ... most everyone

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

This column is a little belated. I got sidetracked by last week’s 2012 Dayton Air Show so my apologies to those deserving folks who are my subject this week.

As we enjoy our recent respite from last week’s heat wave, our memories of the wind storms of June 29 and July 1 are beginning to recede, but all we have to do is look around us as we travel through the city and evidence of the storm’s fury is still everywhere.

The storms took a heavy toll in both the city and county. A number of folks suffered property damage and there were also injuries related to the Friday storm.

It is difficult to find anyone who was not without electricity at some point during the storms.

If you have not done so already, the next time that you see one of our city workers, in particular those who work for Piqua Power Distribution, take a minute to shake their hand and thank them for a job well-done.

The fact that Piqua has its own power plant gave us a leg up on everyone. In spite of unprecedented electric supply failures due to the storm, our distribution people had a majority of the city back up and running in just three hours.

Those same hard-working individuals, after making emergency repairs, began the long and difficult task of getting power restored to all customers and replacing destroyed poles, transformers and equipment. They operated on little sleep or even time away from work, until everything was repaired or replaced and the citizens of our community could get back to business as usual.

Our streets and parks departments people also did, and are continuing to do, an outstanding job of removing and cleaning up the hundreds upon hundreds of trees and branches that were down everywhere we looked. Railroad tracks, roadways, sidewalks and bike paths were all blocked by trees and our city crews worked diligently to clean up after Mother Nature.

The fire department, taking the storm, and subsequent flood of calls for service in stride, responded to everything from a man who was injured when the truck he was sitting in was struck by a large tree, to calls of power lines and transformers on fire.

The police department was also busy checking out dangerous situations such as reports of downed power lines. Minutes after the storm subsided, Chief Bruce Jamison and City Manager Gary Huff were out working alongside their fellow city workers, blocking off streets where downed trees and power lines posed a risk to motorists and placing orange traffic cones to alert motorists and pedestrians to possible danger.

Perhaps some of the least noticed but most overwhelmed workers the nights of those storms were the men and women in the Miami County 9-1-1 call center. The number of calls received during the storms was nearly astronomical, yet they sorted through the calls to “triage” and determine which of the hundreds of calls were emergency status and which could be handled later.

It should be noted that most every one of the city and county workers who were on the job that weekend, working overtime and on little sleep, did so in spite of the fact that they, too, had families and property that needed attention as they also coped with issues from the storms.

That weekend was not a whole lot of fun for anyone. Many people suffered property damage.
Fortunately, injuries from the event were minor. Most everyone was inconvenienced to some extent.

Looking back, one of the things that strikes me most is the teamwork that came into play. Every department within the city and county came together to keep all of us safe, to protect us from danger following the event, to begin the job of repairing and cleaning, almost before the storm clouds moved away.

A huge and heart-felt thank you to everyone, public employees and civilians alike, who pitched in as one team to get us through our spell of rough weather. And, an equal thank you to the families of all of these hard-working men and women. You know that your spouse/dad/mom’s job keeps them away from home at some of the most trying times but you manage to keep things going at home anyway.

Well done!

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