CONWAY, Ark – Nine Conway Firefighters are back on the job in Central Arkansas after assisting in recovery efforts in Louisiana.
Scot Erwin and Bill Keathley headed down to Baton Rouge Monday with 7 other first responders from Conway and another 40 from Central Arkansas.
“It’s like no other call we have in the state,” Conway Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Keathley said.
Keathley says the crew was stationed in Baton Rouge but would make daily trips to Hammond, LA which is about an hour away from New Orleans.
“Baton Rouge was the only place that had power within our hour-long distance there, Hammond had nothing,” Keathley said.
The crew says its first task was to make sure everyone that stayed behind to weather the storm was ok.
“We might have been the first responders that they had seen for the entire time,” Battalion Chief Scot Erwin said.
Erwin says the road to get there though, wasn’t easy.
“We were chainsawing our ways into locations,” Erwin said.
The crew says most of the problems left behind were from Ida’s wind.
“Roofs being ripped off top of houses, trees on houses, we actually saw a few folks that were living in tents on their driveways,” Keathley said.
Each time though, Keathley says people were thankful to see a red truck in the distance because that meant help was on the way.
“They’re our neighbor, [and you should always] reach out and help your neighbor,” Keathley said.
Wednesday, it was back to business as usual, but these first responders say they’ll go wherever the next call takes them whether it’s three miles down the road or 300.
The nine firefighters were part of Arkansas Task Force 1, a group of first responders throughout the state that aid during natural disasters.