Feature Story: She is keeping her eye out to make sure we are OK

Shelly Butts

MADISONIVLLE, TEXAS: As of 9 p.m., ET, April 17, it was reported by National Public Radio (NPR) that there are 699, 554 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, and 36,773 reported deaths as a result of the COVID-19.

By April 18 daybreak, both of those numbers will increase more than likely.

Across America, and the world, where the total has gone beyond 2,000,000 of confirmed cases, a myriad of feelings simmers. In between confusion and panic and anxiety and angry and worry, there also seems to be a small percentage of ‘risk takers’ who refuse to abide by the preventative guidelines set by those in the know.

We are in a time that none of us were prepared for, and yet, here it is – we are at home, working from home, doing school at home and our day-to-day ventures in our communities have come to a screeching halt or are very limited.

Toilet paper, eggs, Lysol (and all other disinfectants) and peanut butter are just a few items that are no longer available – some may be – but quantities are limited. Masks and gloves are being hoarded as well.

Doctors, nurses and all medical personnel, as well as other first responders, are being heralded as heroes of the day. Yet, we seem to forget some very important players behind the scenes that are keeping us going – grocery store and restaurant employees, pharmacists, 911 dispatchers, and emergency management coordinators.

Most towns in the United States have an emergency management agency. A lot of times, the emergency management coordinator could be the sheriff or fire chief or a city or county administrator with training.

Do you know what an emergency management coordinator does? They don’t just watch the weather and tell people when a tornado or hurricane is coming and monitor shelters.

Emergency management coordinators do so much more. They develop and lead training for emergency response teams in your area. They assess and monitor potential dangers and threats, including large-scare accidents, natural disasters and play a part in battling pandemics like we are now experiencing.

They are constantly monitoring and reporting the crisis situations to governing agencies, putting together action plans of safety and try to remain a calming voice for their community.

My friend, Shelly Butts, was the longtime e,emergency management coordinator for Madison County. And I couldn’t imagine anyone else more suited for the job. I believe she still is.

A wife, a mother and a grandmother, when I knew her, Shelly would bring to her job versatility, experience flexibility and resourcefulness.

Whenever there is something going on, Shelly had her sleeves rolled up way before anyone else realizes what is going on, and is right at work. Radios are on, computers are up, and television news stations were constantly playing in her offices – which are in the county seat of Madison County – Madisonville.

To picture Shelly … imagine a cross between Dolly Patton’s brassiness and spunk, the quiet wisdom of Queen Elizabeth and the teacher, Ms. Frizzle, on the animated series, ‘Magic School Bus?’ Ms. Frizzle had this hands-on approach to everything. She had this characteristic about her that made her very beloved.

And that is Shelly Butts.

Her dedication to her job took her all over the place, traveling, training and finding out ways to make sure she could help her ‘people’ – everyone in Madison County – be safe.

Shelly relied on the knowledge and resources from science, math, and the government to do her job, but she also has a strong spiritual faith too.

And all of that rolled into one makes for a pretty good emergency management coordinator.

Don’t you think?

Thank your community’s emergency management coordinator for what they do to keep you informed and safe.

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