Emergency responders took Matt’s best punch

Published 9:34 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So, how did you choose to ride out the storm on Saturday night into the wee hours of Sunday morning?

For starters, I – against the better judgment of my wife – drove to Ahoskie on Saturday to get in a few hours of work. That work consisted of sorting through the hundreds of emails I receive each and every day. It’s so easy to get behind on viewing/answering/setting up news and sports copy/photos from the mountain of electronic mail that arrives, without fail, every day.

I had planned to work ‘til 7 pm. However, keeping one ear glued to the police scanner on my desk and periodically checking the National Weather Service website for the latest updates on how Hurricane Matthew was going to impact our area, I chose to leave at 5 pm. I wanted to have enough daylight so I could safety see my way home.

That proved to be a wise decision.

The wind was howling and the rain was beating down. There was water standing on the road in places I had never seen before. What typically is a 22-minute drive turned into roughly 50 minutes. A flooded shortcut road I use forced a detour, which added about five minutes to my drive.

Once safety inside the Bryant abode, followed shortly thereafter by a bowl of homemade chili beans whipped up by my better half, I settled into my recliner, cut on the tube (where the satellite reception was very sporadic due to the heavy rain), and switched on my portable police scanner.

As expected, with the howling wind and the downpours, the scanner was busy. I used that opportunity to jot down a few notes about storm-related incidents I needed to follow up on the next day for possible news stories. But what I found myself doing the most was taking mental notes on what a great job our emergency first responders due in the “heat of battle.”

Despite flooding roads, falling trees and rain so heavy that it would have frightened Noah, these brave men and women were up to the task.

The more I listened as E-911 dispatchers in Hertford and Northampton counties (and I’m sure the same thing was happening in Bertie and Gates, but my small hand-held scanner wasn’t powerful enough to latch onto their respective channels from my home near Woodland), the more I was impressed by the actions of these first responders.

In numerous cases, there were flooded roads to either navigate or find a safer route. Sure, that slowed their response, but those guys and gals never hesitated to answer a call, despite the fact they were risking their lives.

And it didn’t matter what type of call it was….there were several calls from motorists stranded in floodwaters, and then there were calls for strange noises. There was even one call in Northampton County from a resident in Severn, that was severely flooded, asking a deputy to respond because someone was ringing her doorbell and running away.

It needs to be stressed that law enforcement were not the only ones out braving the weather. So were Emergency Medical Services (some answering simple “sick” calls) as well as our hard-working volunteer firemen. Case in point on the latter entry was the Murfreesboro Fire Department rescuing a motorist that had encountered a flooded area on Pinetops Road and traveled off the road into the woods.

And a big tip of the cap goes to the repair crews from Roanoke Electric and Dominion Power that left the comfort of their homes and entered the jaws of Matthew to restore electricity to thousands across the Roanoke-Chowan area.

All of these efforts I mentioned lasted into Sunday and Monday.

The next time you encounter a police officer, fireman, EMT or utility repairman, shake their hand and thank them for their selfless service….rain or shine.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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