When Hurricane Michael was at it’s worst, first responders had to take shelter just like everyone else bu that didn’t stop the hundreds of people from calling the Bay County Emergency Operations Center for help.
“911, what’s your emergency?
“it’s flooding in here bad.”
“I know there’s probably no way you can get here but I think our roof is going to come in any minute.”
As Hurricane Michael raged outside, calls like these were pouring into the emergency operations center.
“Nobody’s moving a wheel. Everybody’s secure and locked down and the calls go on and on and on,” said Brian Hardin, EOC Communications Supervisor.
Emergency services operator, “listen to me, like I said do not go outside. You’re afraid of the house but the house is the best thing for you right now. If you try to get outside right now, debris will kill you.”
“You’re telling em to secure themselves in. Stay secure, shelter in place and as soon as the storm is over, that’s when everybody responds,” says Hardin.
not only were emergency personnel trying to keep the callers calm, Hardin says they also struggled to keep themselves grounded. “During something like that you just keep a running conversation with everyone. You try to make sure everybody’s okay, you make sure they don’t need anything because we never stopped. We continued to answer phone calls.”
And calls seemed to get more desperate as the storm reached it’s height.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Hello. I’m so sorry but I need you guys to help me.”
“Emergency services what’s your location?”
“Umm.. Our roof fell off the house and we’re stranded inside of it.”
The EOC never stopped answering calls. “All 18 people were inside the call center and we were taking phone calls. We were answering phone calls and answering radio traffic,” says Hardin.
Once it was safe for responders to venture out into the community again, their world had changed.
Hardin said,”somebody asked me when we’d think we would reach back to being normal, there’s not going to be a normal for a while. It’s just going to be better and as long as we can get better everyday. I think we’ll get back to normal eventually.”