A smaller community’s advantage

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 31, 2014

There are many reasons to be thankful for living in a small community and one of those reasons become apparent during the winter storm this week.

News from larger communities, especially Atlanta, Ga., tells us of one breakdown after another in emergency response and coordination. Children were stranded at a school, motorists were stranded on the highways circling the city, the city is pointing fingers at the state and the state is pointing fingers at the city.

Nobody wants to take responsibility.

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That hasn’t been the case here. When the Mississippi Department of Transportation became overwhelmed by the emergency, the city of Picayune stepped in and spread sand over the U.S. Highway 11 bridge over Boley Creek and elsewhere. City Manager Jim Luke said, “We want to protect our citizens. That is our number one priority.” And that is the way the city, and Pearl River County, have approached this emergency.

Departments needed to respond to the emergency staffed up and met the emergency head on, finding solutions to problems the city has very seldom faced before. After all, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, drought, woods fires and heat are the types of emergencies we face in the Deep South, not winter storms.

But a winter storm barged into us and here the emergency managers and employees they depend on to do their jobs responded quickly and innovatively. Local businesses quickly agreed to help the city with their resources when they were needed.

That isn’t what happened in Atlanta and some other large cities in our region. None of us are prepared for winter storms, but those of us that live in small communities have been blessed with better response than many of the larger communities.