(The Livingston Parish News) – Fire Chief James Wascom knows too well the burden a natural disaster can place on local first responders, who spend the immediate aftermath assisting the people of their community before even thinking about themselves.
So, too, do the firefighters under him at Livingston Parish Fire Protection District 4, including many who experienced disaster first-hand during the August 2016 flood.
That’s why a team of local firefighters spent last Saturday in Beauregard Parish, where they cooked meals, passed out supplies, and assisted in the ongoing recovery efforts being made following the destruction of Hurricane Laura.
Just like Livingston Parish received help just over four years ago, it was time to return the favor.
“A lot of times when these storms come in, your first responders are so busy they don’t have time to slow down and work on their homes or eat a hot meal,” Wascom said. “We just wanted to go and at least put a hot meal in their bellies and do what we could to help them.”
Around 15 local firefighters volunteered for the trip, leaving Livingston Parish around 3:30 a.m. before arriving in the small town of Singer, Louisiana, a little after daybreak. Not only did firefighters volunteer for the job, so did some of their spouses and children, Wascom said.
Once there, volunteers cooked up and passed out 120 or so meals of pork chops and gravy poured over steaming rice, with servings of corn, greens, and bread on the side. It may have been a simple gesture, but it was one that was sorely needed, Wascom said.
“The chief there said his people just really needed a hot meal, so that’s what we brought them,” Wascom said.
District 4 posted photos of the trip on its Facebook page, showing firefighters and volunteers stirring the food in cast iron pots, pouring generous servings of rice and meat onto styrofoam trays, and even a few of local first responders sitting down to enjoy their meal.
But that’s not all that was done.
Along with bringing a freshly-cooked lunch, District 4 passed out relief items that the people of Livingston Parish donated in a supply drive last week. The supplies were much-needed in an area that will be reeling for months from the worst storm to ever hit Louisiana, Wascom said.
District 4 showed some of the “heartbreak, catastrophic damage” in its Facebook post, sharing photos of ripped-up trees, downed power lines, torn-off roofs, and smashed buildings.
“The majority [of people] are still without power,” Wascom said. “The trees have been cleared off the road just so traffic can pass, but power poles were still down. There’s still a lot of work for them to do.”
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