PORT ARTHUR — As the floodwaters recede, members of the Waxahachie Fire Department are still working to aid residents and first responders affected by Hurricane Harvey.
After deploying the first group Aug. 28, the department has since sent a second team of firefighters to the Texas coast. Those members deployed Monday to relieve the first six firefighters.
“We left out Monday morning. Since we have been here, we have been assigned to a fire station in Port Arthur. Most of their apparatus was taken out in the floodwaters,” Waxahachie Fire Department Battalion Chief Marcus Brown said. “So they are using other cities equipment and personnel to run calls in their city.”
Brown stated he was told that most of the Port Arthur Fire Department's vehicles were moved to the city’s civic center, thinking that it would be safe. However, that area ended up becoming flooded.
He noted that a group from the Martin Apparatus Company has been on site making repairs to damaged vehicles to get them back up and running.
The team is made up of Brown, firefighter Terry Nava and pump engineers Tony Townley and Shane Petty. They have been stationed at fire station No. 2 in Port Arthur to provide back fill for the local fire department.
“We are running the normal calls that they would run if they would have their equipment back. It has been everything from fires to EMS to car wrecks to electrical arcing,” Brown explained. “They are slowly getting apparatus back and as they do they are releasing teams.”
Brown stated that the team had answered about 35-40 calls during their deployment but no calls that have been water related. When the first team headed back to Waxahachie they took the boats they brought with them because they were no longer needed.
“Everybody is glad to see us. The Port Arthur firefighters are very receptive with us being here. They are making us feel at home,” Brown said. “The residents are kind of surprised to see Waxahachie on their streets. Just about everyone has thanked us for being here. It is humbling, to say the least. These guys have it pretty bad down here.”
Brown shared that conditions in the part of Port Arthur they have been working in have been dry and that floodwaters are receding. As the team has made calls throughout the city, they have seen piles of debris that contain portions of homes interiors that are placed at the curb.
“We expect up to seven days, which started Monday. At the latest will would come back this Monday (Sept. 11) but it could before then,” Brown noted. “It is kind of a fluid situation. If they get (more) apparatus back before then they could release us.”
Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd said that he is proud of not only the firefighters who have gone on deployment but also the firefighters who have stayed and family members that have taken on additional responsibilities during their absence.
“They did a really good job. I’m proud of the guys for stepping up and proud of the support of their families. A lot of those guys have little kids and their wives have had to step up and take care of them,” Boyd said. “With them being gone we have had to have guys working here to work some overtime. Proud of them stepping up and taking care of that. So it is a team effort all the way around."