A group of first responders from Evansville are on their way to Houston, Texas to bring relief to the beleaguered and bewildered residents still dealing with record flooding. The five police officers and one firefighter will be assisting in rescue operations and other relief efforts in addition to bringing humanitarian items by the truckload.
The group of first responders received a sendoff at the FOP Lodge #73 around 7 o’clock Friday morning. The past three days, the group worked tirelessly to collect to collect and pack three semi tractor trailers full of items, including food, clothes, toys and tools. In addition to the semi trailers, a box trailer and two box trucks were also filled with items.
The group initially hoped to fill just one.
“It makes you pause for a second. It put tears in my eyes that the generosity has been so overwhelming,” said Officer Lenny Reed. “It’s been so humbling.”
Upon seeing the damage and devastation in Houston area and southeast Texas region, Reed knew what he had to do. Reed and some of the other officers have friends in the Houston area that are also first responders.
“A lot of the people down there that I know have lost everything that they have. They don’t have a home to go home to. They don’t have cars. They have nothing. And yet, they are still working 12 hours a day,” Reed said. “We have a call to serve. We’ll do the best that we can by sending a small contingent. We still have to serve here. I’m sure our chief would love to send everybody down there.”
The officers approached Chief Billy Bolin about the idea of lending aid in Houston. It was one of the easiest decisions he’s ever had to make, Chief Bolin said.
“They were calling looking for a box trailer and they were planning on filling a trailer and it’s grown into three semi-trailers, a box trailer, two box trucks,” Chief Bolin said. “I told them I’ve been involved with some things in Evansville and the community comes out.”
The community sure did. So many items were donated, the group couldn’t fit everything inside the trucks. The remaining items, which are predominantly clothes, will be donated to a local organization.
For Chuck Knoll, an Evansville police officer and vice president of the FOP, the whole experience serves as a reminder of how generous and giving the law enforcement brotherhood and community can be.
“[The first responders in Houston] would do the same for us. That’s what public safety is all about: not just helping the community but we’re going to help our brothers and sisters too,” Knoll said.
The group plans on spending as many as five days helping in the Houston area.
(This story was originally published on Sept. 1, 2017)