After the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, many people living along the Gulf Coast had to pick up the broken pieces. But thanks to the help of the emergency response team, the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System – Illinois Task Force 1, and some members of the Naperville Fire Department, they didn’t have to walk alone.
Chuck Gros, firefighter and paramedic for the Naperville Fire Department, says, “We saw a lot of wind damage. We didn’t see a lot of water damage. The water in these areas had receded by this point. But the biggest damage we saw was the wind from the hurricanes, which actually fell trees, crushed cars, and split houses in half. And we saw a lot of destruction in terms of the trees and obviously the power lines that were down. “
Strength emphasized in numbers
A team of 3 firefighters from Naperville, along with about 44 other task force members, spent approximately a week in Louisiana assessing damage, distributing water, and connecting people to resources in the community.
Jim Perkovich, Captain of the Naperville Fire Department: “You can always help someone in need, whether they show up and give them a smile. We distributed a lot of water and food that we had. “
Answer to the Call of Duty
It’s not the first time firefighters have been called in after natural disasters.
Says Perkovich, “I’ve seen the kind of damage we saw down there in Louisiana, just not to that extent. It was a very broader gamut than I was used to. For the people down there, it’s amazing what they actually had to endure in this storm. “
According to Gros, the southern hospitality of the people there did not disappoint. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed in these various disasters is that all of the people we deal with down there are now seeing this almost regularly in the natural disasters we have. At some point they got used to it. We try to help them and as we walk around they offer us help. They say, ‘Hey, can we get you a bottle of water?’ Because they see us walking around so much. The southern hospitality is incredible. “
Both say they are happy to have answered the call of duty.
Perkovich says responding to emergencies like Hurricane Ida can be tough for some people, but it’s worth it.
“I don’t find it stressful. It’s just that my makeup may be a little different than some people. I see it as my job to help people and that is what I do for a living and that is what I should be doing. “
Megann Horstead reported from Naperville News 17.
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