Officials applauded for efforts during storms

WINDER -- Emergency officials in Barrow County applauded trained residents who responded according to the book during last month's ravenous storms, which passed by Gwinnett and Barrow with relatively minimal damages.

As expected, the Barrow County Emergency Operations Center was abuzz with activity in April as storms passed through Georgia, officials said.

Barrow County Emergency Services as well as the county's Community Emergency Response Team were staffing the EOC due to warnings by the National Weather Service and the possibility of a high volume of emergency calls at the 911 Communication Center.

"Luckily, Barrow County wasn't impacted by the bad weather as many of the counties across Georgia were," Dakin said.

The number of calls that came in were miniscule compared to what was expected, he said.

"With the storms we have had across the United States this year, we need to be well prepared," Deputy Fire Chief John Skinner said. "This was a good experience for all ... it helps train the Community Emergency Team and fine tunes the system in the event of another severe weather event."

When severe storms or other disasters wallop Barrow County, members of the CERT team are trained to assist public safety personnel in several different ways, said CERT spokesperson Connie Keener.

"This partnership between the first responders and trained citizens is vital when disasters hit any community," she said.

Barrow CERT is an all-volunteer group whose purpose is to assist families, communities and Barrow County's first responders in the event of a real disaster. Anyone interested in joining the Barrow CERT organization should contact officials online at www.barrowcountycert.com or at 770-868-0548.

Burn ban in effect

Barrow fire officials are reminding residents the annual outdoor burn ban went into effect on May 1 and will continue through Sept. 30.

The ban is issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division every year for Barrow and other metro counties, said Dakin. "We want citizens to be aware of this and help us all have a safer and clearer summer," he said

The Georgia EPD imposes a ban on outdoor burning to comply with Federal Clean Air Regulations, as during summer months in Georgia, the ozone in the air can reach unhealthy levels. The Georgia EPD has identified open burning as a significant contributor of the pollutants that form ozone, Dakin said.