Fort Worth

Fort Worth Firefighters Help in Hurricane Ida Aftermath: ‘Just Pray for the Folks Down Here'

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Relief efforts along Louisiana’s coastline continue as volunteers and organizations work through the damage.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday through a Zoom press conference from Lafourche Parish, Lt. Brant Frazier with the Fort Worth Fire Department had one request on how people in North Texas could help. Lt. Frazier and other firefighters are in the process of their 14-day deployment, which could potentially last longer.

“Just pray for the folks down here, because the devastation is extremely significant,” Frazier said. “If we had to rate the damage, it’s 100%. Where we are in Lafourche Parish, there is not a building, a vehicle, a boat, any kind of structure where somebody could live or stay.”

Frazier was joined by Fort Worth Battalion Chief Bobby Fimbres on Thursday. They are working along with a group of other Fort Worth and North Texas firefighters in the south Louisiana area.

“Nobody has power down here. There’s no running water whatsoever,” Chief Fimbres said.

According to Frazier, the lack of water was partially due to the storm surge and the age of the municipal systems which were not able to withstand 180 mph winds for a significant period of time. The parish is not expected to have running clean water for months, Frazier said.

Other issues they are confronting include limited fuel and downed natural gas systems.

“They have not been able to get down in here and shut off the gas. So, we have a pretty significant hazmat situation going on right now,” he explained. “This is not a storm where we’re going to be able to recover in a week or two. This is going to take months, even years probably to recover.”

North Texas nonprofit organization Minuteman Disaster Response is set up in Laplace, about an hour southeast of Baton Rouge. Director of operations Eric Burkes said they arrived Monday and when their search-and-rescue efforts were not needed, they transitioned to a relief operation.

“We’ll be doing things like mucking out homes. There were a huge number of homes that were flooded. We’ll also do chainsaw work removing trees and debris from people’s property,” Burkes said. “One family that I spoke to this morning had 26 inches of water in their homes, so it’s going to be a long road to recovery.”

Homes in need of drywall and floor removal will also be sprayed with anti-bacterial and fungicidal products to help limit mold growth. Due to high temperatures and humidity, Burkes said this means his team will have to work quickly.

“Our motto has always been, we’ll go as long as we’ve got volunteers to do the work or as long there’s work to be done,” he said. “If one of those dries up then we have to pull back, but there will be no shortage of work to be done here. It’s just a matter of how long we can keep the volunteers involved and engaged in coming down here.”

Burkes said they plan to stay through September but they may stay longer if needed.

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