Eastbank firefighters help community despite their own lossesOct 9th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: top story
Almost all Fire Stations in the parish received some damage from Hurricane Isaac, according to Plaquemines Parish Fire Chief Roy Robichaux. But the two Eastbank stations outside of levee protection, Braithwaite and Woodlawn, were the hardest hit.
The Braithwaite station is in total disrepair and since many surrounding residents’ rebuilding plans are uncertain, so is the future of the firehouse. The
station is a former airplane hangar and was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. Now the structure is nearly unrecognizable as its sheet metal siding is completely
torn and tattered, the truck beds are filled with marsh grass and debris.
The Woodlawn Firestation and School Building was the hub for all firefighters stationed on the Eastbank during Hurricane Isaac. Robichaux reported at the
September 27 Plaquemines Parish Council meeting that Woodlawn received 9.5 feet of water during the storm. Several pieces of equipment and all but one
rescue truck was lost to flood waters. The chainlink fence outside of the Woodlawn School is lined with flooded out gear and equipment, much was pulled off of trucks and out of the waterlogged school building.
To make up for the loss and to ensure all areas have fire protection, equipment and trucks have been pulled from other stations in the parish.
“Woodlawn received 9.5 feet in the engine base, the bottom floor [of the school] has to be completely gutted,” said Robichaux.
Firefighter Johnathan Anslave was stationed at Woodlawn with 21 other firefighters early on August 29. Anslave says that he and fellow firefighter Josh Trueil, son of Chief Urban Trueil, left in a truck around 2:30 a.m. to go
rescue Trueil’s uncle at the Ferry Stop.
“We hopped in the truck and headed up the road to get Josh’s uncle and couldn’t have been gone more than 10 minutes,” Ansalve explained. “When we got back there was already four feet of water.”
The water continued to rise a foot every 10 minutes, he said. The men scrambled to get out of the Ferry Stop via the second floor, hopping in boats and begin
the rescue process in Braithwaite, in coordination with the Sheriff’s department, EMS and civilians.
“The water came up very quickly, almost instantly,” said Woodlawn Supervisor Mitchell Meyers. “That’s never happened here before.”
Like most Eastbank residents Ansalve and Meyers were not expecting
such drastic flooding, especially since the area only took around four feet of water during Hurricane Katrina.
Ansalve’s home is down the road from Woodlawn and he is contemplating whether or not he is going to rebuild there.
“I would like to, but its hard to come back when there’s nothing here to protect you,” he said.
Currently, the firefighters at Woodlawn are using their working rescue truck and hose to help residents with the cleanup process.
“Right now our function is assisting families and residents who need hosing out the inside of homes and driveways or moving debris,” said Meyers.
Isaac was the first hurricane where paid firefighters were on duty.
Robichaux said that there would have been many more fatalities had they not been working.
“On the Eastbank when the water started coming up, the paid and volunteer firemen on duty, along with the Sheriff’s office and civilians and everybody over there, worked together to get the people out of harm’s way,” Robichaux reported.
Plaquemines Parish Firefighters stationed at Woodlawn and the Ferry Stop during Hurricane Isaac:
• Chief Urban Trueil
• Assistant Chief Jimmy Kamm
• Mitchell Meyers
• Dreux Lafrance
• Steve Orkus
• Richie Serigne
• Jeff Nadler
• Mikey Guerra
• Paul Camper
• Zachary Herrin
• Shane Robin
• Jared Hall
• Christopher Francis
• Chasse Craneston
• Roy Lally
• Russell Roberson
• Breck Fredrickson
• Eric Gilmore
• Josh Truiel
• Johnathan Ansalve
• Gerald Kimble
• Bryan Gilmore
• Ryan Fox
• Jonathan Mason