Karen Parrott Traveled To Florida To Assist With Disaster Recovery
MIDLOTHIAN – A dispatcher at the Northern Ellis Emergency Dispatch (NEED) stationed at the Midlothian Public Safety Center and an employee of the City of Midlothian recently headed to Florida to do her part after the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.
The telecommunicator, Karen Parrott deployed to assist in the aftermath of the hurricane in conjunction with the Texas Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce, or TERT. TERT is a mutual aid group designed to assist the communication needs of public safety agencies that have been impacted by major incidents, such as natural disasters.
Certified with TERT for two years, this is Parrott’s first deployment with the taskforce. She deployed to North Port, Florida on October 5 and is set to return to Texas on October 15.
North Port is in Sarasota County, southeast of Sarasota and directly between the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor. This area and Ft. Myers were the hardest hit by Ian and Parrott said North Port is currently in the overhaul and cleanup stage, most electricity and water has been restored.
“There is significant damage on the ground,” Parrott explained. “While cleanup is ongoing, the streets are lined with downed trees, rooftops missing and covered in tarps, street signs down, and multiple streets are still flooded and impassable. Many in this community have lost their homes and businesses.”
While in North Port, Parrott is staffing a dispatch terminal, taking calls for service, giving relief to dispatchers, and providing them much needed rest and breaks.
“Many of the local telecommunicators are dealing with personal property damage as well as trying to still serve their community,” Parrott explained adding “Things probably not on the news is the amount of fraud that is rampant.”
Making Others Aware of Scammers
She explained unlicensed contractors are scamming the vulnerable and elderly.
“Scammers show up saying they are with their insurance company taking payments and not providing services,” Parrott explained. “Displaced residents are living in their cars, while others are breaking into vacant homes that have been evacuated. Homes are being burglarized, even some squatters have illegally moved in to abandoned homes.”
However, even with the scammers and ongoing damage, Parrott pointed out there are positives.
Positives like the “resilience and strength of the employees of North Port Police Department, and the citizens of this community,” she explained. “All personnel stayed at the department taking shifts working nonstop. There have been numerous volunteers working morning until night trimming trees, tarping homes, and helping any way they can.”
Parrott became involved with TERT after she said other members of the Northern Ellis Emergency Dispatch deployed to Rockport after Hurricane Harvey.
“I felt like it was a good way to give back to fellow telecommunicators in a time of need,” she added.
Parrott has been with the North Ellis County Dispatch and working with Midlothian PD for 11½ years. She dispatches Police, Fire and EMS for the cities of Midlothian, Red Oak and Ovilla.
She was chosen to deploy to Florida when Florida TERT reached out to Texas TERT before Ian hit in anticipation of an aid request.
“Once the storm hit and the need was assessed, TX TERT responded and sought volunteers,” she explained. “Several of us in Northern Ellis Emergency Dispatch volunteered and I was chosen.”
The Midlothian Police Department Assistant Chief Scott Brown said he along with the entire department is proud of Parrott.
“It is truly amazing that Karen is willing to sacrifice time away from her loved ones, leave the state, and accept the challenge of helping others in need,” Brown concluded. “I cannot express how proud I am of the telecommunicators in the NEED Center. Karen was chosen for now, but at least three others volunteered for this assignment. It just shows how dedicated they are as first responders, be it here in Midlothian or somewhere a thousand miles away.”