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A lost little girl and a community’s big response

It’s been many years since a news story has gripped the Brookings-Harbor community as this week’s story about missing 4-year-old Zoey Dorsey.

Within hours of her disappearance around 3 p.m. Wednesday, a massive search was launched at her mountaintop home near Brookings.

Never in my 20-plus years as a journalist have I witnessed so many people descend on the scene of an incident so quickly as our local authorities. I was amazed!

Within an hour of Zoey’s reported disappearance, deputies were going door-to-door along Mountain Drive, and the sheriff’s department used the 911 phone system to send a recorded message to Mountain Drive residents asking them to search their property and structures, no matter how small, for signs of Zoey.

I was equally stunned by the response from the community as the story spread via the Pilot’s Web site, personal e-mails and social networking sites, and through word-of-mouth at local restaurants, grocery stores, schools and workplaces. Flyers with a description and photo of Zoey began appearing on storefronts all over town.

Everywhere Pilot employees went, myself included, we were stopped by concerned folks and asked for the latest news about Zoey.

As darkness fell Wednesday, more rescue teams from distant counties arrived. Neighbors, including a mother and her three teenagers, arrived, offering to help in anyway the could. Several long-time residents didn’t wait for official directions and headed down trails on their own to find Zoey.

The response from near and distant authorities and local residents was truly overwhelming – and something to be proud of.

Thank you everybody!

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