First responders one year after Michael

MARIANNA, Fla. (WTVY) - First responders train for everything from car wrecks to house fires.

As Hurricane Michael made its way through Marianna, Florida, first responders had to adapt to the devastation that the category 5 storm left behind.

Marianna’s Director of Emergency Management, Rodney Andreasen is grateful for the team of first responders he has working under him.

“I can’t say enough good things about my first responders - my fire and rescue guys, law enforcement, and the rest of the folks that responded” he exclaimed.

Andreasen’s job is to ensure first responders know where they need to be when tragedy strikes.

“Our role, basically, is to pull everybody together. We’re just a coordinating agency” he said.

He says there is nothing that could have prepared him and his team for Michael.

“It’s very tough to prepare for that. You can only do the best you can do and then you recover from there” he explained.

A lot of his first responders had to meet new challenges.

“They had been really good about working on the fly” he says.

Marianna’s Fire Chief, Nicky Lovett, never experienced anything like Hurricane Michael.

He says “we weren’t prepared, but we adapted and we overcame the elements and the things that we were given to deal with.”

He says his crew surpassed his every expectation.

“I’m so proud of the fire fighters of Marianna fire and rescue on how they performed and their will to never quit and to not give up until we got help.”

His crew put their lives on pause so they could help their community.

“Some of them didn’t even get to go home for 48 hours, 72 hours to even check on their homes and their loved ones” he says.

Police Chief, Hayes Baggett says evacuation wasn’t an option for him and his department.

“I never thought about evacuating. That’s just the nature of this business. That’s something that never crossed my mind.”

After seeing all the damage, he was both shocked and relieved that no one died during the storm.

“I don’t know how you ride around these neighborhoods right after and how someone didn’t die that night from a tree landing on them is phenomenal” Baggett exclaims.

One year later – the community still suffers from the effects of the storm.

“You still see a lot of blue tarps and trees that are partially down, dead trees” Baggett says.

Director Andreasen is hopeful that a city as strong as Marianna will come back stronger than ever.

“The good thing about [the storm], that it’s just that small part that we can look back on and say ‘it’s bad’ but the good part is, we have an opportunity here to be a brand new city. We have an opportunity to be a shining diamond in the pan handle” Andreasen says.

Hurricane Michael’s impact is still being felt.

Andreasen says all of the debris still on the ground, mixed with the ongoing drought, is threatening to cause wild fires throughout Marianna.

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