Was there a bit of distance put between “the men and the boys” when it comes to how our different leaders managed to function and act during last week’s ice storm? While there is certainly a need for administrators and office types to coordinate behind the scenes, and make sure supplies and resources are guided to the areas of most concern, let’s take a minute and salute the people who rolled up their sleeves, started their chainsaws, and kept the community functioning despite the conditions.
To Sheriff Richard Roundtree on his decision to toss out the rule book and allow his guys (and gals) to participate in road clearing and clean up work while out in the community, SALUTE ! I have always been the type to believe that if it something needs to be done, and someone is capable of doing it, GET IT DONE ! Damn the protocol and Miss Manners notwithstanding. I hear there were more cops using chainsaws for a few days than there were actively using handcuffs, and whether that is true or not, the very idea represents a real spirit of community involvement which was wonderful to see.
True, the Sheriff still doesn’t like me, but that is okay, nobody expects him to be perfect.
Augusta firefighters were also out battling ice damage, but those guys are used to chainsaws and shovels. Still, great to see that the manpower and equipment was put to expert use, we appreciate them and their efforts more than we can say!
Did you folks notice that Acting City Administrator Tameka Allen was able to keep things held together without anyone longing for Fred Russell? I seriously wonder sometimes why she seems so reluctant to embrace the position and really make a name for herself with some bold leadership moves. She and Abie Ladson (Chief City Engineer) both did an incredible job, with little sleep and few public accolades. I honestly believe the two of them could run things all by themselves if the elected types got the hell out of their way and let common sense and sound business practices rule the day. That will never happen, of course, but wouldn’t it be nice?
ABOUT THOSE BLACK HELICOPTERS
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal showed up nice and spiffy with an Atlanta press entourage in tow, to tour storm ravaged Augusta by air, and declaring the city’s highways open, clear, and free from congestion! Good for us. I wish Mayor Deke, or Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross had whispered in his ear that we don’t have traffic problems out this way often, and certainly not during bad weather. Somehow the Governor had us confused with Metro Atlanta.
What he really needed to see up close was the residential neighborhood damage, particularly in the older neighborhoods, which with the snap of a few billion ice covered branches became part of the most serious and wide spread natural devastation I have seen in almost 50 years of life in the CSRA.
We didn’t need kudos for the traffic success, we needed to double down on bucket trucks, utility crews in the rural areas, and more Georgia National Guardsmen to provide assistance on the ground. The utility crews that came from all over were indeed a Godsend, they certainly knew what was in store, and little of it had to do with traffic congestion.
Over in Aiken, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had her priorities right, and seemed to be on target addressing the needs she saw during her own inspection, which was on foot and by car.
The fairer Governor seems to be making far more good decisions lately than her Peach State counterpart, and given the fact that she is a “babe in the woods” (pun intended) in politics compared to the wily old curmudgeon Georgia is stuck with, don’t be surprised if we don’t start seeing her name considered for positions a few rungs higher up the ladder, sooner, rather than later.
But the real winners and heroes of last week’s natural disaster were the thousands of citizens who rose to the occasion to make sure their less prepared, older, or disadvanatged neighbors, were not left to the elements.
Government relief is certainly needed and appreciated in times of such hardship, but nothing beats one hand reaching out to another, next door, down the street, or the next block over. Lord knows we all learned valuable lessons about emergency supplies, hypothermia, and the actual vs. advertised effectiveness of our deoderants, but most importantly we saw once more that there is no better friend to have than a willing friend, unselfish, and happy to help.
I was proud to be an Augustan last week, this week too! Next week…stay tuned…