Walton County's new Director of Emergency Management got some on-the-job experience last week when temperatures in Walton County uncharacteristically dropped into the teens.



For those who are homeless and without shelter, such a situation puts lives in danger and therefore falls under his jurisdiction.



Beaty was ready for the challenge, as he has worked for the Sheriff's Office as assistant emergency director since 2010. As of Dec. 1, he transferred under the County Commission and became director.



The Sun was told that Monday night's chill sent no one seeking shelter at the DeFuniak Springs Community Center, but Red Cross workers did bring one traveler into South Walton's temporary shelter at the Coastal Branch Library's meeting room.



Tuesday night, none sought shelter in South Walton, but one homeless female was taken in at DeFuniak.



Beaty said his goal was to bring about a coordinated response to cold weather through a team effort.



A primarily volunteer organization called the Matrix has been working in this arena since 2005 in DeFuniak, but there has not been such an organization in South Walton. Beaty would like to see that change and once the cold snap is over, he wants to find a permanent solution, such as a house where people needing shelter in South Walton and Freeport could go.



"The homeless can be difficult to reach," he said. "We need consistency. We need to reach out and respond to needs when needs arise. We need to build a more robust organization to respond and let people know we will help when no government assistance is available."



Community volunteers assisted during the cold snap by manning the temporary shelter in South Walton, and provided food, coffee, and transportation.



Beaty lives in Freeport. His mother was born and raised in DeFuniak. He is a native of Pensacola and retired from their fire department as interim chief. He moved to Walton County to take the emergency management job.



"I always wanted to live in DeFuniak," he said. "My mother's childhood home is two blocks away from my office. I am happy to be in Walton County."