Columbia, SC (WLTX) As part of the firefighter mobilization effort, crews and equipment from the Midlands were stationed near the areas affected by Hurricane Matthew before the storm hit. Now more firefighters and equipment from the midlands could be headed to the low country to further assist in the Hurricane Matthew recovery.
Columbia Chief Jamie Helms is helped to coordinate efforts to send resources to the affected areas. He says, "We are also seeing places like Hilton Head that are pretty much cut off right now, hard to get in there to it, so I belive right now, one of our teams today are assisting in a basically nine mile area of searching door to door."
Tasks llike that one are part of the statewide firefighter mobilization effort to help where ever they can in the areas hit by Hurricane Matthew.
Helms says, "We sent roughly 18 people from Columbia and Lexington county." He says two boat teams just returned from Colleton County. They are now on stand by, just in case they need to go again when rivers crest this week.
At the Emergency Management Division headquarters in Columbia, State Fire Marshall, Chief Robert Polk is helping to oversee the process of identifying the needs and finding resources. He tells News 19, "We have already looked 48 hours in advance into what we think the need is gonna be, and we are identifying the resources that are goingto be needed. And once again we will be pre-positioning them to try to get them as close as possible to the area of need."
Polk says one area of need is to give man power to the fire stations who's firefighters are taking on other duties. He says, "Right now we've already identified about 64 firefighters and 16 pieces of fire aparatas who are going into communities to basically back fill the fire stations. because the local firefighters are active in flood recovery and in fact, they are just absolutely exhausted. Some of them have been working 72 hours straight."
And some of them have also experienced personal losses since they live in the communities they serve. With the 1,000 Year Flood fresh in our memories, the fire crews here in the Midlands remember all too well what that's like. Helms says, that the community of firefighters is tight knit, and they are always here to support each other. He says, "It's our turn to give back so we are trying to give back as much as we can."
Even though the mobilization effort in the sharing of resources is governed by a state law, the Firefighters who choose to go help out, are volunteering their time and efforts.