Butte County Sheriff Revered for Leadership in the Face of Disaster

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OROVILLE -- Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea has been the face of strength in Butte County.

His leadership was widely seen during the emergency at the Oroville Dam's spillway, which threatened to collapse and send a torrent of water flooding into neighboring communities.

"I thought perhaps that would be the last time I'd have to deal with anything like this," Honea told FOX40. "Now here we are with the Camp Fire, which has turned out to be an unfortunate and tragic event."

Paradise Town Councilman Michael Zuccolillo stayed behind to help Sheriff Honea evacuate the town as flames roared all around them.

"There was a time out there doing evacuations, worrying that I wasn't going to make it out and I told him, 'Kory I'm scared.' And he's like, 'We're going to get through this, Mike,'" Zuccolillo said.

At one point, side-by-side with his daughter and Paradise police officer, Kassidy, they directed traffic until he heard deputies and residents were trapped in a nearby hardware store.

He hugged his 23-year-old daughter then raced to the store, worried they would never see each other again. But, thankfully, they both survived.

"I have been put in certain places and situations that required that kind of action," Honea said. "And I'm thankful that I was able to do that when the time came."

He believes God and the competent people around him saved many lives.

In the aftermath of such devastation, locals have come to trust and revere their fearless sheriff.

The 48-year-old has even seen some of the funny memes of appreciation that have turned up on the internet.

"That is humbling," he said.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.