Extreme cold a baptism by fire for new emergency director

russell beaty
Deborah Wheeler | The Sun
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 05:02 PM.

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.

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