Local Fire Departments Aid in Eureka

By Zachary Dodge
KOAM – July 2, 2018


Members of a local disaster response task force have spent the last two days helping with tornado recovery in Eureka, Kansas.

Today, they came home.

Taylor Cerne, Pittsburg Fire Department:”As you moved more into the path of the tornado, then you started getting big trees down, you started getting roofs off of the houses.”

That’s just a small part of the devastation that occurred in Eureka, Kansas Tuesday night – as an EF-3 tornado ripped through the heart of the town – injuring eight people and impacting over 400 structures.

Landon Woodward, Neodesha Fire Department:”It was mass chaos. Not so much the people running around, but the debris everywhere.”

Shortly after the tornado, members of Kansas Task Force 4 were sent to help with response efforts – part of that was doing a second search of the disaster area.

Duane Banzet, Chief – Neodesha Fire Department:”You want to do a secondary search to make sure the primary search didn’t miss somebody because nobody wants to hear about somebody that’s trapped in a house and discovered the next day in daylight.”

The task force wasn’t just doing a secondary search though. They were also using GPS technology to map the areas of destruction. Information that can play a crucial role in Eureka’s future recovery.

Dale Lowry, Chanute Fire Department:”One of our objectives was to mark high hazard areas such as power lines and things. It provides data to other agencies to maybe help these folks get back in their homes faster.”

Members of the task force say responding to a disaster like this is tiring in more ways than just physically.

Cerne:”It takes a toll on a person with your emotions. On one hand you are very very happy that there wasn’t more damage, that there wasn’t more injuries, but on the other hand, you can definitely see the stress and what people are going through.”

Another sentiment they share is the pride helping people in need- and helping other departments that need it – can bring.

Lowry:”We take pride in to come together into one team and working together and being able to help those folks that need us.”

Woodward:”In small rural America like we are right now, you don’t have the manpower or the resources for one agency to take care of themselves. So it definitely feels good to be part of that outside agency to go and help your brother.”

Crews from Pittsburg, Chanute, Parsons, Iola, Neodesha and Emporia Kansas fire departments went to Eureka as Task Force 4.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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