Updated August 31 – The IAFF Disaster Relief Go-Team and HEART 911 have been on the ground in Louisiana and Texas since Hurricane Laura made landfall on August 27.
To date, the IAFF has received and processed 166 IAFF disaster relief applications. Meanwhile, the Go-Team has received 80 requests for home repairs from wind damage.
Updated August 30 – IAFF Disaster Relief Go-Team members, crews of IAFF members, and HEART 911 teams remain on the ground in Louisiana and Texas helping IAFF members impacted by Hurricane Laura.
At least 74 members – primarily in Lake Charles — have requested disaster relief assistance, including home repairs for damage caused by wind and downed trees. Crews have completed dozens of home repairs already and hope to complete all projects over the next two days.
Go-Team members are also contacting outlying locals, including Alexandria Local 540, Carylss Local 4802 and Sulphur Local 3765 to determine if members there need assistance as well.
Updated August 29 – IAFF Disaster Relief Go-Team members, with some assistance from HEART 911, are continuing to work from command centers in Crowley, Louisiana, and Beaumont, Texas, to assist members in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.
In addition to providing financial assistance to members displaced from their homes due to hurricane damage, dozens of members have requested assistance in repairing damaged homes. Teams have already serviced many of those and will continue to work to assist all members in need as temperatures in the region reach nearly 100 degrees. Go-Team members expect to receive more requests in the coming days.
In addition, peer support services are available to any members in need of behavioral health resources.
Updated August 28 – IAFF Disaster Relief Go-Team members have arrived on location in Louisiana and Texas and are beginning to assist members impacted by Hurricane Laura, which made landfall at a category 4. So far, 40 IAFF members have been identified as having varying levels of damage to their homes.
August 27 – Fourteenth District Vice President Danny Todd, 11th District Vice President Sandy McGhee, 16th District Vice President Jim Johnson and 12th District Vice President Walt Dix are coordinating with Disaster Relief Go-Team members to establish command operations in the disaster region. Professional Fire Fighters Association of Louisiana President Chad Major and Texas State Association of Fire Fighters President John Riddle are also assisting with the operations.
In addition, two teams from HEART 911 – a group of active and retired New York first responders who provide relief in the aftermath of natural disasters – will be on the ground to help with securing and repairing members’ damaged homes and clean-up.
The IAFF is making sure Go-Team members on the ground take appropriate precautions during COVID-19 to prevent exposure while also delivering effective and efficient assistance. High numbers of coronavirus cases are reported in these areas.
Laura made landfall in Cameron, Louisiana, just before 1:00 a.m. packing winds of 150 mph. The storm extended west along the coastline as far as Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. Hurricane Laura seems to be largely a wind event with trees down and varying degrees of wind damage to homes and businesses. The storm surge is thankfully lower than initially expected, making flooding less of an issue.
Hurricane Laura hit the Gulf Coast 15 years after Hurricane Katrina brought catastrophic damage to the region while the IAFF worked to provide assistance to member whose own homes were destroyed while they remained on the frontlines serving their communities.
General President Harold Schaitberger says, “We learned a lot from our response to Katrina and this union’s disaster relief operations are now much more sophisticated. We are able to mobilize quickly to bring disaster relief assistance where it’s needed for as long as it’s needed.”
He adds, “Our members our incredibly grateful for the personal contact and assistance provided by their union.”
The IAFF will continue to provide updates on disaster relief efforts.