Sweetwater firefighters travel to Texas gulf for Hurricane Laura preparations


TRAVIS CITY, Texas (KTAB) – Three Sweetwater firefighters are on the ground in the Texas Gulf, helping residents get out of harm’s way as Hurricane Laura barrels toward the state’s coast.

Fire Chief Grant Madden, Will Schafer and Bryan Buckley have been in the southern region of the state since Sunday. It was that same day a regional emergency response team reached out to the Sweetwater Fire Department (SFD) to get additional boots on the ground ahead of the storm.

“People are ready to go, are ready to help, ready to do things,” said Chief Madden.

While Chief Madden’s team has helped in similar storms such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed problems they’ve not yet faced. Evacuation and relocation efforts, for example, have had to operate around half capacity to maintain social distancing between those moving from flood zones.

“It is an entirely different wrench into the works. You can put 50 people on a charter bus, but now the state wants half of that,” said Chief Madden.

Despite the pandemic and its challenges, the mood in the gulf is not one of defeat, says Chief Madden.

“So far we’ve done pretty good. It’s a little hot, but it is August in Texas,” said Chief Madden.

For now, Chief Madden and his team are assisting wherever and however they’re needed – even drawing inspiration for those efforts from a well-loved chicken sandwich chain.

“If we can be as efficient as a Chick-Fil-A drive-thru line, I think we’d be lucky,” said Chief Madden.

The three firemen plan to be in the gulf for at least a week, but Chief Madden says they will stay however long they’re needed.

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