Storm response: ‘Our people have performed marvelously’

Published 2:38 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

City of Pelham worker sand a bridge on Bearden Road as the snow begins to accumulate on Jan. 28. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

City of Pelham worker sand a bridge on Bearden Road as the snow begins to accumulate on Jan. 28. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Local government and law enforcement leaders are praising their crews – and kind-hearted residents – for their response to emergencies arising from the Jan. 28 winter storm.

As roads iced over and thousands of children were stuck at schools across the county, many law enforcement officers and firefighters pulled lengthy shifts to help stranded motorists and students.

“Our people have performed marvelously,” Pelham Mayor Gary Waters wrote in a Jan. 29 email. “We can all be proud that our personnel conducted themselves as professionals, and as if they’ve been to the rodeo before.”

Across the county, first responders delivered blankets to children stranded at schools and at emergency shelters such as the Pelham Civic Complex, and checked abandoned cars to ensure nobody was trapped inside.

“I’m very proud of the employees. Some of them worked for 36 hours straight without sleep to make sure citizens were taken care of,” Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney said on Jan. 30. “It was great to watch employees work, what were without sleep, and be on the top of their game.”

Rigney and Pelham Deputy Police Chief Larry Palmer said their emergency plans were in place before inclement weather hit, but said the storm’s sudden strike added difficulty to their responses.

“We are prepared for weather like that, but it’s difficult when something hits that fast,” Rigney said of the storm.

Palmer said the department’s main goal was to ensure “everyone was safe, warm and fed,” and said city businesses showed an outpouring of support to emergency responders throughout the event.

First responders also banded together to help residents, Waters said.

“I’m extremely pleased to report that not only have we been able to mitigate all Pelham needs, we also have been able to help our neighbors as well,” Waters said. “We have been able to assist Helena, Chelsea, Alabaster and Hoover on different occasions.”

Alabaster’s Foodland grocery store provided food to the city’s emergency responders, and Rigney said city residents weren’t shy about helping their neighbors in need.

“I’d like to thank all the citizens who came forward to assist,” Rigney said. “Even through a tough couple of days, it’s very rewarding to see how the people of Alabaster came together through this.”