Denton lends a helping hand during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Denton lends a helping hand during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Denton lends a helping hand during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts
September 21
20:30 2017

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, cities across the state have offered their assistance in the form of donations and rescue teams. Denton’s mayor, Chris Watts, as well as city police officers and firefighters traveled down to the affected areas to assist in these efforts.

On Aug. 29, donations began coming into Central Fire station. The next day 17 members of Denton’s fire department went to the Houston area to help with relief efforts.

The Denton Fire Department has members on Task Force 1, an urban rescue system that functions under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s system of rescue teams. On Aug. 23, the Denton Fire Department was asked if they had a team ready to deploy. They were sent out the following day.

“We were a part of a state-wide team that got deployed,” Watts said. “We wanted to make sure that we put our assets available to help people who have experienced tremendous tragedy.”

On Sept. 5, Watts, as well as more members of the fire department, went to Rockport, Fulton and Rosenberg, TX to assist with rescue efforts.

Denton Fire Department Capt. Brian Cox said of the several other deployments he has been sent on, Hurricane Harvey is the worst.

“A lot of times people would ask me where we were going, and I didn’t know,” Cox said. “I was just getting out of the danger zone first, which was to a gas station.”

A 20-foot trailer of donated goods, toiletries, water and snacks from the community were taken to the affected areas. Watts said there were several more donations that would not fit on the trailer.

“It was a very extreme response,” Watts said. “I really enjoyed seeing the communities pull together but very sad to see the dire situation they were in.”

Members of Denton’s Streets, Drainage, Parks, Fleets, Police, Water and other departments have been aiding in these efforts as well.

Firefighters were sent to the affected areas in waves of seven days. Jason Eddington is one of the firefighters who drove one of the Denton Firetrucks to the Houston area. He said when he went on Sept. 10 during the third wave, the roads weren’t as bad as he had expected.

“There was still a lot of debris, but they were really starting to get a handle on stuff out there,” Eddington said. “I would imagine the first week was a lot harder.”

Many of the people rescued from boats were trapped in the attics or second stories of their homes. Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Hedges said that this is a result of waiting too long and not expecting the water to rise so high.

“We had a six-person boat team from College Station that was deployed after the storm hit,” Hedges said. “That was for three weeks, and they were deployed three to four days before the hurricane hit and were out for three to four weeks after that.”

Hedges said the six-man team went around by boat and rescued approximately 500 people and 100 animals in the few day span they spent around Houston and sent them to respective shelters.

Volunteer firefighters from the affected areas were receiving dozens of calls a day to make rescues, not leaving them time to manage their own homes. Denton firefighters helped relieve them.

“Lots of other fire departments were sending ambulances and trucks down,” Cox said. “Crews were sent down seven days at a time and they would answer calls for the city because their fire stations were devastated.”

The Denton rescue team made their full return on Sept. 17 and is completely done with Hurricane Harvey help.

“As we drove around, we saw the great response from the people of this state who helped their fellow Texans,” Watts said. “There were all sorts of distribution centers, places to pick up food and people helping people clean up.”

Featured Image: Captain Brian Cox stands in front of a fire truck. Cox spent time helping people all over the Houston area that were affected by flooding. Zoee Acosta

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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