FAIRMONT — Fairmont officials on Tuesday reflected on how their town responded in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
“I’m really proud of the Fairmont community for how they stepped up,” said Town Manager Katrina Tatum. “Everybody worked together.”
The commissioners in October set aside their regular monthly business to talk strictly about the Oct. 8 hurricane. Tuesday was their first full regular meeting since the storm and commissioners took the opportunity to point out the hard work of town staff and residents alike.
In a recent call with FEMA, the town estimated it had suffered $843,000 in damage and losses from the storm, with the figure likely to rise.
Commissioner Cassandra Gaddy commended staff for quickly collecting storm debris while Felecia McLean-Kesler touted employees for keeping water running. Commissioner Charles Kemp recalled how employees, under the direction of Public Works Director Ronnie Seals, drove through flooding to Boardman to refuel a generator at the sewer plant. He also gave a shout-out to Officer Chris McManus for carrying a disabled man “200 yards” in floodwater to safety. Commissioner J.J. McCree thanked new Police Chief Jon Edwards for coming to work before he was set to start the job.
Tatum returned the thanks to the board for helping with everything from hauling debris to answering phones.
“You may not have seen them but they all stepped up and did something during the storm,” she said.
Tatum said more town residents would likely have been prepared for Hurricane Matthew’s onslaught had they signed up for CodeRED emergency alerts from the county. She said staff would look at holding a registration day on a Saturday.
“When we begin to think like that every day — that we’ll give whatever it takes to make people’s lives better — Fairmont is going to be a better place,” Mayor Charles Townsend said. “… Let’s not wait until tragedy comes, let’s not wait until people are in danger. Let’s continue to try to make people in Fairmont better than they are anyplace else in the world.”
In other business, the board:
— Heard an update on efforts to demolish dilapidated structures. Two houses on Liberia Street have been torn down since the September meeting.
— Authorized Tatum to advertise for proposals from disaster consultants to work with FEMA on behalf of the town.
— Took no action on a discussion about working with the county to expand free recreation programs in Fairmont. Kemp said he would like to bring back the town’s 10-week summer program.
— Voted to close Main Street from N.C. 130 Bypass to Railroad Street from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 to accommodate the Holiday on Main Twilight Christmas Parade. Festivities begin at 6 with the parade starting at 6:30 p.m.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.