Weather provides busy day and a wild ride for local first responders

Despite a very busy day, first responders warned Wednesday that the worst may not yet be over.

“There is a lull at the moment, but we’re gearing up for a possible Round 2,” said Capt. Jeff Allen with Walton County Fire Rescue. “We are worried about tonight. This could be bad – we don’t want anyone to get complacent.”

Allen said that an Emergency Operations Center would be established at Station 2 in Between again Wednesday evening to monitor conditions and run logistics if it was necessary. Fortunately it wasn’t necessary, but the same could not be said for what happened Wednesday morning. While the cause of storm damage hasn’t yet been officially called a tornado, an area in Walnut Grove was heavily impacted by Wednesday’s storms.

“There were no injuries, but some people were trapped in their homes and we had to remove trees to get them out.  There are some elderly people who live in that area,” Allen said. “We had a school bus to help move some of the people out of the area – some people had trees down on cars or debris in the way. The Red Cross is also helping those who may need it.”

Allen said that Chick-Fil-A in Monroe stepped up “in a big way to help” during clean up operations.

“We let them know that there were firefighters out there and people in the area who hadn’t had anything to eat and they simply ask, ‘how many?’ They sent out 40 meals to take care of the crews and the residents,” Allen said.

Wednesday morning, first responder crews from Monroe, Loganville, Walton and Gwinnett County were kept very busy with storm damage, lightning strike fires and downed power lines. Monroe Assistant Fire Chief said Monroe Fire Department had to deal with some downed trees and there was a report that Dairy Queen’s roof fell in due to water damage. The City of Loganville had a house fire as a result of a lightning strike and WCFR had a fire truck rollover on its way back from a call.

A fire truck rolled over during Wednesday’s storms while returning to the station after responding to an incident. Photo credit: Walton County Fire Rescue

While it had been a busy day, crews advised residents to stay alert, especially as darkness fell. The National Weather Service had the local area, including Walton, Gwinnett and all the surrounding counties under a Tornado Watch until 10 p.m, a Flood Warning for the Alcovy River and a Flood Watch for the area until “late Wednesday night.” By the time the  storms arrived, however, they had lost some of their steam and the damage was able to be kept to a minimum.

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