WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- A Winston-Salem firefighter has earned a big honor! John Powell is the state's firefighter of the year!

He was honored Wednesday at the city's public safety news conference. He grew up in Princeville and when Hurricane Matthew struck he knew he had to act. Powell said, "18 years ago, I was affected by a flood when I lived in Princeville. So as a victim, I knew what those guys were going through. So I was compelled by my passion for the people down there."

Powell's brother is Princeville fire chief and when he was injured in a rescue operation, Powell stepped in to be acting chief. Under his leadership, they helped make sure the town would be safe for residents to return. But the help didn't stop there. They also returned with presents for the firefighters and their families at Christmas! Powell said, "Seeing people in the shelter, seeing firefighters in the shelters and I developed a lot of respect for those guys. A lot of those guys had to make a decision to leave their personal vehicles and drive the fire truck out."

Powell said he's excited about the award, but still doesn't feel like he's deserving of it. Congratulations to him.