(Updated) Cullman, Hanceville officers head south to assist after Hurricane Sally

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Cullman and Hanceville police officers and officials pose for a photo before the officers left for Foley Thursday at lunchtime. Pictured are, left to right, Cullman Police Officer Jeff Mize, Cullman Police Officer Jake Lambert, Cullman Police Officer Tyler Jackson, Cullman Police Lt. Scott Sanford, Hanceville Public Works Director Rusty Fields, Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail and Hanceville Police Lt. Brannon “Bull” Hammick. Not pictured: Hanceville Police Sgt. Josh Howell (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In response to a mutual aid request to Division F of the Alabama Mutual Aid System (AMAS), the Cullman Police Department and Hanceville Police Department sent officers to Foley, Alabama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, which made landfall Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. The officers pulled out from Hanceville City Hall on a mission of mercy to the storm-ravaged region of south Alabama. They will be providing security at a feeding location and equipment staging point in Foley for contractors working on cleanup and recovery operations.

Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail and Public Works Director Rusty Fields accompanied the group to deliver a pull-behind camper to be used as a mobile command center. The officials will return Friday, but the police officers will work on the coast for up to seven days. According to Nail, another team of officers could be sent after that.

AMAS is a program administered by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to ensure that trained first responders can be placed throughout the state as needed in response to a major disaster. The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office is on standby to send follow-up assistance when needed.

The four officers from the Cullman Police Department who have been deployed are Lt. Scott Sanford, Officer Jake Lambert, Officer Tyler Jackson and Officer Jeff Mize. The two officers from Hanceville are Lt. Brannon Hammick and Sgt. Josh Howell.

“We’ve been on deployments with the sheriff’s department and Hanceville and Division F officers, so we’re familiar with it,” said Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper. “We’re glad to participate because at some point we may need it. Also, for example, when the tornadoes came through in 2011, 70% of our officers had been on deployments like this on previous hurricanes or tornadoes, so they were used to, and had experience working with, the National Guard, FEMA, state EMA, and various agencies, State Troopers in a disaster. That experience is invaluable, the real-world experience you get from something like this that you can use if you ever have a similar situation.”

Cullman Fire Chief Brian Bradberry said Cullman Fire Rescue is also part of AMAS Division F. The department has not yet been called upon to assist but stands ready to assist if needed.

Lt. Scott Sanford told The Tribune, “We’ve been associated with Region F for many years, which is one of seven regions in the state of Alabama that respond to emergency situations through EMA, typically. Usually, it’s disaster relief, whether it be hurricanes, tornadoes, anything of that nature, if another agency needs help. Apparently, the folks down south have reached out to us and requested some help, and we’re going to send six officers from Cullman County, total- four from Cullman city and two from the city of Hanceville- down to assist, to help the folks out down there.”

On Wednesday, the Cullman Power Board sent a crew to Fairhope to assist with power restoration for customers served by Fairhope Public Utilities under a statewide mutual aid agreement administered by the Electric Cities of Alabama.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by the hurricane and with our local law enforcement officers, first responders, utility workers and other personnel who are answering the call for assistance,” said Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs.

Said Nail, “We’re always real ready and able to assist our neighbors in need. Folks came and helped us in 2011, and we just think it’s our responsibility to do that.”

The Cullman Electric Cooperative also sent crews to assist. The Co-op said on Facebook: “Early this morning, Cullman Electric Cooperative sent nine men to help Covington Electric Cooperative and Baldwin EMC. They will work to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally. We are thankful for their willingness to serve, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by Hurricane Sally.” Look for a separate story regarding the Co-op.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com

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Wendy Sack

wendy@cullmantribune.com