Whether it’s getting a parking ticket or having to fill out a tax return, people normally complain about government: how inept it is, how unresponsive it can be — and how it needs to buy a few vowels from Vanna to get a clue on how to handle financial matters.
But John Weiss, executive director of the Grand Valley Metro Council, saw government in a much more appreciative light after the record rainfall, the resulting flooding and the numerous emergencies that followed.
“In the past, we have all heard the criticism of local government and experienced significant reductions in personnel, revenues and resources. Yet, in times of need, it was our local police, public works, fire, road commissions and public safety departments that were on the job serving the public,” wrote Weiss in his weekly newsletter to the council’s 36 member governments.
“We all saw images of people being rescued. If you looked closely, you not only saw citizens in need but the local government employees walking waist deep in water carry a child, pushing a rescue boat, helping the elderly, filling the sandbags or providing necessary information to assist the public.”
Weiss said local governments were on the job throughout those hectic days of responding to the chaotic situations. “We saw photos of police officers working side by side with emergency personnel from other communities. Available rescue equipment from municipalities was dispatched wherever it was needed,” he said.
During the emergency, Weiss noted that municipal boundaries disappeared and cooperation became the key word among local government officials.
“Collectively, local government was there when needed and local government answered the call in a professional, efficient and cooperative manner,” he said.
“We can all be proud of the way this emergency was handled and feel confident in the knowledge that if anything like this happens again, local government will be there to assist our citizens. Job well done!”