ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany man who took on dual roles, helping coordinate the community's disaster response following last year's tornadoes, was recognized for his efforts.
Gary Rice is Phoebe's Emergency Preparedness Manager, and has spent a career in emergency management. Following January Second's straight line-wind storm, that caused widespread destruction across the city, Rice went to work with Dougherty County's disaster response team.
Rice played a vital role, working alongside local, state, and federal emergency officials for 45 days, while simultaneously attending to his duties at the hospital, which was also facing its own storm damage and response efforts. The Georgia Hospital Association has honored Rice with the Hospital Hero award.
Rice says he witnessed many heroic actions following the storms and tornadoes.
"If there was something that needed to be done, you found someone doing it. It wasn't about who was getting recognition for anything. It was about neighbors helping neighbors, community helping community, and we got it taken care of."
Rice has worked many major natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina.
He has observed a community is never the same after a disaster, but thinks Albany is a stronger community as a result of living through two back-to-back storms.