Fire departments from across the country, including four from La Salle County, reported to Louisiana just a couple of weeks to aid the region in its recovery from Hurricane Ida.
Marseilles Fire Chief Dave Parrott said many of the departments in Louisiana are volunteer departments tasked with handling the recovery of their community and the damage to their own homes. Parrott traveled with Jeremy Kammerer, of Wallace Fire Department, Larry Cowie, of Marseilles Fire Department, and Steve Maltas, of Oglesby Fire Department.
“Our role was everything from humanitarian aid to passing out water, tarping ropes and helping cut trees,” Parrott said. “Then we were detailed into a fire station for anywhere from five to eight days to assist local departments with their responses.”
Parrott said there were power lines and trees down, and it reminded him of when a tornado goes through here.
“With a tornado here, though, you might have damage that spans a couple of miles,” Parrott said. “With the hurricane, it stretches for hundreds of miles.”
The firefighters worked heavily with the St. John’s Volunteer Firefighter Department, which helped them get used to the way firefighters perform dispatching and understand that area a bit better.
Parrott said the local firefighter crew left Illinois at 5 a.m. Sept. 7 and arrived in Louisiana at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 8, driving all the way through.
“It’s amazing that after everything they’ve gone through, they were extremely accommodating to us,” Parrott said. “They have a great bunch of people down there and in a short time, we created a great relationship with the St. John’s Volunteer Fire Department. They’re a great group of guys, dedicated just like anyone in the fire service.”