WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — For helping an entire community recover from a devastating flood, a Winston-Salem firefighter is North Carolina’s Firefighter of the Year.
“He’s definitely a man of honor.” That’s how Winston-Salem Assistant Fire Chief Harry Brown describes Fire Engineer John Powell. But Powell describes himself in more humble terms.
“It was just about supporting the guys in need at the time,” Powell said.
John Powell is the North Carolina State Firefighter Association Firefighter of the Year. Powell organized multiple successful drives to help the people of Princeville. The eastern North Carolina town was flooded by Hurricane Matthew.
“It was amazing to have the support of the brothers and sisters and all fire departments,” Powell said. “It was a process that was self-sustaining.”
Local businesses, hospitals and others in the Piedmont participated in Powell’s donation drive. The Winston-Salem firefighter also served as Acting Princeville Fire Chief for 30 days. Powell filled in while his twin brother healed from injuries he sustained during a water rescue. His brother and other Princeville firefighters are back on the job.
“The guys are mostly recovered,” Powell said. “The firefighters that were displaced are back at home now. They are continuing to move forward.”
And how is the Firefighter of the Year moving forward? By spending more time with a brother that survived the flood waters of Hurricane Matthew.
“Looking forward to spending time away from the fire department,” Powell said. “And one day ride to New York on our motorcycles, relax.”