DICKINSON, Texas — Since leaving for south Texas on Monday to aid residents and first responders affected by Hurricane Harvey, Waxahachie firefighters have been on calls ranging from rescues to fires.
Firefighters were initially assigned to do structural protection in and around Conroe. However, shortly before heading out, they were reassigned to aid residents in Dickinson, near Galveston Bay.
They were told to they had to be self-sufficient for 72 hours and to bring their own food, water, fuel and sleeping arrangements. Along with provisions, firefighters took a flat bottom boat, rescue boat, squad truck and fire engine. Making up the team are Battalion Chief John Rodgers, Lt. Trey Moon, pump engineer Joey Dawson, pump engineer Matt Rodgers, pump engineer Jason Eubanks and firefighter Josh Altom.
“They were sent to Webster and then set onto Dickenson. At that location the first day that they were there they did 58 water evacuations. They were going into the neighborhood and getting people out of their homes and getting them to safety,” Waxahachie Assistant Fire Chief Randall Potter said. “That evening they were set back to Webster to back fill their station for structure fire calls and things like that.”
During the deployment, Altom has shared various assignments the team has tackled, along with the conditions and dangers they have faced via his Facebook page.
“Well, needless to say, today was definitely eye opening. We worked along side Webster FD (outstanding hosts) rescuing individuals and their beloved pets,” Altom posted on Aug. 29. “Speaking with these individuals was truly humbling. Today's events tasked our resources, but WFD was represented proudly.”
Potter stated the crew also received orders to relocate to Port Arthur because the rains had moved and more flooding was occurring.
“Wednesday, I got the notice that they were going to be moving. So Thursday morning they left Webster at 2 a.m. and went to Port Arthur to be there by 8 a.m. They needed them to go there because they needed the boat for more evacuation type of stuff,” Potter stated. “From their location in Webster, they sent 22 people, two boats and several engines over to Port Author to assist over there.”
Potter stated that one firefighter sustained a cut during the deployment but was treated at a local hospital and was released.
Altom shared that the team has had many different assignments during their deployment.
“Unable to post because we've been on so many random tasks as they need us. We were staged at a mall here in Port Arthur with everyone from the Coast Guard to the Army,” Altom posted on Friday to his Facebook page. “Searched some homes on the boat, ran a few medical calls, landed some helicopters for medic evacs and then last night had a structure fire on a shrimp boat. Can (definitely) say that was a first for me.”
Altom continued, stating firefighters are filling in at a fire station to give the local fire department some relief.
“Today we should just be running their calls, however, the way it's been going you just never know what's in store for us,” Altom posted. “Also no oil refineries are closed here. It's just the roads are impassable to get the fuel trucks up north. Water is dropping so the highway shall be opening if not already. Just FYI”
Potter said he was told late Thursday evening that things were starting to slow down and the team might be demobilized this weekend. However, an email on Friday stated that they were going to continue operations and advised Potter that the next team should be ready to leave on Monday.
“We are preparing to send the next group down to change out and bring those guys back,” Potter said. “I don’t know who we are sending but it is going to be another six guys. They will go down to replace the six that are there.”