In the wake of the damage wreaked by Hurricane Ida, many people who live along the Gulf Coast were left picking up the pieces. But thanks to the help of the emergency response team, Mutual Aid Box Alarm System—Illinois Task Force 1, and some members of the Naperville Fire Department, they didn’t have to go it alone.
According to Chuck Gros, a firefighter and paramedic for the Naperville Fire Department, “We saw a lot of wind damage. We didn’t see a lot of water damage. The water in those areas had receded at that time. But most of the damage that we saw was wind from the hurricanes where the trees would actually come down, crush cars, cut houses in half. And we saw a lot of destruction in regards to the trees and obviously, the power lines being down.”
Strength in Numbers Emphasized
A team of 3 Naperville firefighters, along with about 44 other task force members, spent roughly a week in Louisiana surveying damage, passing out water and connecting people to resources in the community.
Naperville Fire Department Captain Jim Perkovich, “Anytime you can help somebody in need, be it showing up and giving them a smile. We handed out a lot of water and food that we had.”
Answering the Call of Duty
This isn’t the first time members of the fire department were called in response to natural disasters.
According to Perkovich, “I’ve seen the type of damage that we witnessed down there in Louisiana, just not on the scale. It was a very wider spread scale than what I was used to. It’s amazing to the people down there what they actually had to endure during that storm.”
Takeaways from the Deployment
According to Gros, the southern hospitality shown by the people there did not disappoint. “The biggest thing that I’ve noticed going to these different disasters is that all the people we’re dealing with down there, they see this almost on a regular basis now with the natural disasters that we have. They’re kind of used to it at a point. We’re trying to give them assistance and as we walk around they’re offering us assistance. They’re saying, ‘Hey, can we get you a bottle of water?’ Because they see that we’re walking around so much. The southern hospitality is unbelievable.”
Both say they are glad they answered the call of duty.
According to Perkovich, responding to emergencies like Hurricane Ida can weigh heavy for some people, but it is worth it.
“I don’t take it as taxing. It’s just I’m made up a little bit differently possibly than some folks. I look it as it’s my job to help people and that’s what I do for a living and that’s what I should do.”
Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.
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