Wichita firefighters at work in Louisiana, helping hurricane victims
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita, Louisiana firefighter to help after Hurricane Ida says he and other Kansas firefighters are welcomed with open arms.
“They are very grateful that we are here,” said Chad Winton, Kansas Stike team leader. “We can’t go very far without being stopped and thanked.
Seven firefighters from the Wichita Fire Department and two engines deployed to Louisiana on Saturday. They met with Johnson County firefighters and four engines to form an engine response team.
Winton said they were in Houma, Louisiana, a town of about 36,000 people.
“They were one of the hardest hit areas when the hurricane made landfall,” he said.
Kansas firefighters are helping fire stations in this area so local firefighters can finally check their homes and families and get some rest.
“They’ve had people here for 14 to 15 straight working days, haven’t come home, haven’t seen their homes,” Winton said. “So we relieved their crews. They can go out, take a break and see their families and right now we’re just setting off alarms and covering their area.
He said Houma still had no electricity or cell service and stores were closed. Kansas firefighters stay in tents.
“The amount of destruction these people are going through right now is hard to express,” Winton said.
One of the local firefighters, Captain Jordan Collins, of Lafourche Parish 3 Fire District, said it was overwhelming, but so were the way people in the community and all the country help.
“You have neighborhoods that come together, that just go through their own fridges and freezers to make sure they have, you know, every one of them is fed, people with generators handing out cords to their neighbors for make sure they can run a window unit, or something, just to make sure they’re somehow taken care of, ”Collins said. “That sense of community just came out strong.”
He says help came from Kansas and Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, California and New York. He appreciates what the Kansas firefighters are doing.
“Just the folks to help out, to take our seats so our guys can go home and tighten up their stuff and fix their homes,” Collins said.
“It’s always good to go out and help other communities that are going through something like this,” Winton said. “The team is in a good mood.
Wichita firefighters are expected to be away for about 14 days.
Louisiana requested help through the Emergency Management Assistance Pact, and the Kansas Department of Emergency Management organized the Kansas response.