Our opinion: For those who step out before us, thank you!

Published 3:19 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Long before Tropical Storm Irma struck Sumter County, plans were already in place. Our local EMA, under the direction of Nigel Poole, set up an emergency operations center (EOC) at the former National Guard armory so that representatives of local schools, governments, law enforcement agencies, fire and rescue units, emergency medical services and others could be connected. Local businesses and individuals fed these fine folks over several days. CERT (citizens emergency response team) members, a network of volunteers, was alert and ready to go into action, and they did.
Dispatchers at the Middle Flint Regional E911 Center in Ellaville, working the eight-county area, were literally flooded with calls as Irma arrived early Monday morning. These dedicated workers dispatched help around the clock during and after the storm.
As privileged as we are in America, with adequate housing, food, fresh water supplies and electricity, we rarely give these blessings a thought until we lose them. Tensions and frustrations ran high this week as thousands struggled with no electric power to their homes and/or businesses. But crews from Georgia Power and Sumter EMC worked tirelessly to solve the often complex problems caused by fallen trees in the area. They, too, are heroes, along with all the others mentioned here.
We applaud all involved and offer sincere appreciation for all the hard work in protecting us and our property. While we mourn the death of the individual who died, we are thankful that no one else was injured. Buildings and vehicles can be replaced. Human life cannot.
Let’s not forget the lessons we bring away from the storm: Working together we can accomplish most anything. People helped each other. Strangers helped strangers and made lifelong friends. Let’s try to remember this every day, and not just following a natural disaster.