St. Bernard Fire Department assists with response and recovery efforts in Port Arthur, Texas

District Chief Moolekamp is fourth from left.

On Thursday, August 31st, St. Bernard Parish Fire Department deployed District Chief (D/C) Michael Moolekamp to Port Arthur, Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey. D/C Moolekamp was attached to the Louisiana Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team (LATF-1 USAR) to provide search and rescue resources and as a member of an Incident Management Team (IMT) to assist the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as the Planning Section Chief. The IMT conducted incident support and assisted in establishing Incident Action Plans (IAPs) with Port Arthur officials. As responding crews began search and rescue operations, the IMT continued tracking and documenting the progress of the work being performed. LATF-1 assisted in conducting and documenting secondary searches  and began preliminary damage assessments throughout neighborhoods across Port Arthur.

The IMT, which is a regular component of Emergency Management operations during special events and disasters, was requested for this deployment and included a St. Bernard Parish Fire Department member (D/C Michal Moolekamp has training credentials and experience with developing IAPs throughout Hurricane Katrina and several incidents that have taken place since 2005 on behalf of St. Bernard Parish Government), two New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness members, five members from New Orleans Fire Department, and one member from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP).

At the request of the Louisiana State Fire Marshall’s Office, another member of the St. Bernard Parish Fire Department arrived in Port Arthur on September 3rd. The request to deploy Fire Chief Thomas Stone to the EOC in Port Arthur was due to his vast knowledge in recovery after natural Disasters and industrial incidents. Chief Stone led the response and recovery for St. Bernard Parish Fire Department through Hurricane Katrina, BP Oil Spill, and many other major incidents throughout his career. His knowledge in this area of emergency response and recovery is prevalent and minimizes losses that incur for improper documentation, incident management errors, PW work, etc.

With the impending landfall of Hurricane Irma to the gulf coast of the United Stated it was decided that the IMT would be demobilized and head back to home. Prior to demobilizing, the IMT worked hard at training Port Arthur officials on the proper procedures to focus on for the recovery, maintain control of the incident, and document all events. At the time of departure, the community had all but 52 structures with electricity, no water was inside of any homes, and grocery stores were operating.

The community of Port Arthur is still in need of volunteers to assist in gutting and rebuilding homes, furniture, household goods, cleaning supplies, and other additional supplies to get their lives back to normal living condition.

Fire Chief Thomas Stone seated front right.

(Left) District Chief Michael Moolekamp.