CALERA —– Repair crews scurried for cover on Tuesday evening as yet another powerful storm robbed them of precious daylight, badly needed to restore power to homes in this weather-beaten town.
Meanwhile, donations poured into Calera City Hall for nearly 100 volunteers and at least as many paid city, county, and contractor crews working since Sunday to restore normalcy in southern Bryan County.
City officials spent half of a two-hour council meeting to discuss Calera’s latest round of weather woes. With only a handful of injuries – one of them serious – officials gathered Tuesday to discuss what went right.
A microburst storm featuring 85-mph winds knocked over one home, and depleted the town of power on Sunday. By Tuesday night, every street in Calera was lined with tree limbs, twisted metal from sheds, and drooping power lines and poles.
But the quick and organized response of Calera city employees, as well as concerned neighbors, likely saved countless people from injuries and suffering.
“Everyone needs to stand up and take a pat on the back,” said Councilman Brian Norton. “This town came together and made it happen.”
State Rep. Dustin Roberts shied away from the limelight as he helped in the cleanup efforts. Still, when cornered by the media, his words summed up the response in Calera.
“What I saw Sunday night, these guys were on point,” Roberts said. “What I have seen is a model the state should adopt.”
While the Calera response is already making an impression among state and regional emergency response personnel, Roberts also warned Calera residents of the next phase of the storm: Insurance and contractors. Help is on the way, but fraud could be lurking.
“Get a quote first,” he said. “Don’t let anyone do any work right away. The biggest thing right now is cleanup.”
The list of individuals, agencies and entities who donated time, material, labor and supplies to the Calera recovery effort seems endless: Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Durant city and schools, Bryan County Commissioners, OG&E and Southeast Electric Cooperative, and EMS crews from almost every neighboring county, just to name a few.
Perhaps the most telling donation was from the manager of Billy Sims Barbecue in Durant. The restaurant has only been open for four months, but its owner is from Tushka. He recalled the response from Bryan County during the May 2011 tornadoes which took lives and leveled the town, according to Calera officials, when he arrived this week with a truckload of donated food.