Area firemen join rescue efforts in Texas

By NIKKI SMITH,

A few residents of the Friendly City made their way to Texas this week as a part of disaster relief efforts and drove home the meaning behind the city moniker. 

A group of six men from the Petal Fire Department and Petal Technical Response Team responded when a contact from Lake Charles, Louisiana, reached out to them for aid. 

The team – including Eric Harding, Marion Sims, Carlton Sims, Trumaine Hardges, Timmy Dye and Brent Chennault – departed from Lake Charles en route to Cleveland, Texas, to lend a hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. 

In its wake, the storm left 10 people dead and more injured and stranded as parts of the Houston area flooded, receiving approximately 40 inches of rain.

“Our first responders have a calling to help others, even beyond the borders of our city,” said Mayor Hal Marx. “I am proud of all of our firefighters and police officers who are willing to go above and beyond in times of disaster to offer their special training and skills to help people in other cities and states.”

Fire Chief Joe Hendry said the team did not think twice about going to help. They left early Tuesday morning with an inflatable boat, an 18-foot flatbed aluminum boat and all of their personal gear in tow. 

“The flatbed boat will haul eight people in addition to the two men that will be on it,” Hendry said. 

According to Hendry, the team will assist in rescuing people who are stranded in the floodwater. Hendry said each of the six men are trained in swift water rescue. However, he hopes that they will not encounter much swift water. 

The team is expected to return toward the end of the week. 

Petal residents are no strangers to emergency response following a storm, which is why Hendry said the men were so willing to serve.

“(The Petal tornado) is one of the reasons why they were so willing to go,” Hendry said. “Because we had so much help after the tornado here, it means a lot to go and help someone.”

The Petal Fire Department posted the following statement as the men were preparing to leave on Tuesday: “Petal Technical Response Team. What a group of men. As we rolled out of bed this morning we kissed our loved ones bye, really not knowing the obstacles we will be faced with for the next few days. We are headed to help our neighbors with rescue efforts. Keep us in your prayers. Isaiah 43:1-2, this is what the Lord says, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be buried and the flames will not set you ablaze.’”

Hendry said a second team may be sent to Louisiana at a later date.