CAIRO, Ga. — Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor says he's setting aside his criticisms of Grady County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Phillips following a meeting with first responders Saturday.
"Some of it was hashed out, some of it wasn't," Gainor said. "But we agreed to bury the hatchet and move forward."
"I can agree with that," Phillips said upon learning of Gainor's comments. "We can agree to disagree."
Gainor had previously stated Phillips should resign for what he argued was a failure to accept outside assistance in preparation for Hurricane Michael and ineffective communication.
Phillips was not present at the Saturday meeting with Gainor and did not wish to comment on the mayor's criticisms.
"I had a job to do and I got it done," Phillips said. "That's all I'm going to say."
Gainor was convinced to let the issue go after volunteer firefighter Cathe Hoskins explained her defense of Phillips.
"It's not about (Gainor), it's not about (Phillips), and it's not about anything else other than that we support the man that lead us through the worst thing to ever come through Grady County," Hoskins said.
Gainor said he respected Hoskins' opinion and would apologize.
"I will still keep my opinion," Gainor said. "But I'll apologize and I'll let it go. Only for the sake of (Hoskins') family right there."
Hoskins said afterward that she felt it was necessary to speak up at the meeting.
"I felt when (Gainor) made his statement that he couldn't see both sides of it," Hoskins said. "I felt like, as somebody that knew him, I could relate it to him so he could understand what our concerns were as firefighters."
Hoskins and Gainor have a personal relationship that stems from their mutual work for people with disabilities.
"I respect them both," Hoskins said of Phillips and Gainor. "I think they're both very good at what they do."
At the heart of Gainor's criticisms was Phillips' decision to redirect the Red Cross to areas harder hit by Michael farther west, saying the aid organization was unneeded in Grady County.
Gainor previously said Phillips' decision to redirect the Red Cross was not out of concern for afflicted areas, but motivated by personal animus toward the charity group.
"(Phillips') comment to me was 'I've got a bad taste in my mouth from the Red Cross in the last storm. I'm not going to deal with them. You can,'" Gainor said.
Numerous city and county officials sharply disagreed with Gainor's criticisms of Phillips, saying the EMA director performed well and that the decision to redirect the Red Cross was the right one.
"I still have my personal opinion due to the personal statements that he made to me, which led me to ask for his resignation," Gainor said. "But I will digress at this time. I'm not going to say it's all agreed upon, but we're going to agree to disagree."
Phillips said he did not give the mayor's criticisms much credence, but added that post-disaster communication could have been improved upon.
"We lost all communications," Phillips said. "Phones, internet, cell service, radio. We got down to one channel on the radio. That was our 911 system."
Despite the incident, Phillips said he was proud of how the community banded together after the storm.
"Everybody did a great job all the way around and through the community," Phillips said. "The community involvement was great. We all came together in a time of need and made it happen."