Hurricane Barry Fire Dist. #1 wrap-up

Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc, Fire Dist. #1 Chairman, St. Amant and Darrow communities
Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc

I hope you all fared well during the storm. If you have any needs, please let us know at Ascension Parish Fire Dist. #1 office.

We were activated with OHSEP on Thursday and were tasked with coordinating possible chain-saw crews, rescue efforts by water and land and our normal fire department daily duties for our communities. Regan Melancon and Karen James worked from the Parish EOC fire desk and logged all our task into WebEOC. Our boats and Rescue Teams were ready to go if needed. Each fire department in Fire Dist. #1 was manned around the clock for the entire storm. Thank you Ryan Schexnayder for assisting fire with the coordination of the boats with the sheriff’s office boats. Thank you Gene Witek, Karla Lambert and Mike Breaux for taking care of the daily operations at Fire Dist. #1 and working with APSO on the daily feeding of our Emergency Response teams. Also thanks Mike Breaux for taking care of the oxygen trailer for several residents that lost power and needed their O2 bottles refilled.

Regarding the sand bag deliveries, social media was certainly our friend during this storm. We were very successful in our volunteer recruitment effort through Volunteer Ascension. Thanks to several volunteers across our parish, close to 2,000 sandbags were filled, loaded, delivered, and placed throughout the parish for the elderly and needy residents, and all this was done with no hesitation among these parish volunteers.

As part of the Ascension Parish Unified Command we worked in the EOC under the direction of OHSEP. We were able to attend briefings of the National Weather Service, Joint Information Conferences and frequent updates from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, throughout the entire storm, every morning and evening.

Our Ascension OHSEP is outstanding, and I have the utmost confidence in its ability to keep our parish informed of every scenario and the best ways to prepare for each. The entire OEP Staff worked around the clock with Emergency Response teams and kept us well informed of Hurricane Barry. In addition, our first responders, the sheriff’s office, GPD, area fire chiefs, parish employees, and a host of others displayed a tireless and unified effort to keep our citizens safe. Great job again to all our Parish DPW workers, you were outstanding. It makes me so proud to live and volunteer in Ascension Parish. We are indeed blessed. All of the Emergency Response Teams were fed well during the storm by the sheriffs office cook team, and that is a very large burden taken off of fire leaders on how their members will be fed during a storm like this. Thank you Sheriff Webre and the entire team at APSO! On Sunday Evening, DEMCO fed several of our Emergency Response agencies at Fire Dist. #1. Thank you DEMCO for being a community partner.

One of the largest events during the storm was a large structure fire in the Keystone subdivision in the Galvez community. All the fire departments worked very hard during the winds to save homes on both sides of this burning home. The Ascension Emergency Response agencies send our prayers to the families involved in this fire and thank the American Red Cross and the State Fire Marshal's Office for responding also. Many volunteer fire departments from several east bank volunteer fire departments responded to this working fire.   

We are so thankful that Ascension Parish was spared from this disaster. We all shared some very anxious moments in the Emergency Operations Center as the forecast was becoming much more serious. But, God is good – and he had other plans for our parish. If you played any part in working this storm – THANK YOU, we 100 percent appreciate your dedicated efforts.