Firefighters still without a home

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - The effects of the flooding are still present in parts of Region 8.

Fire Station #2 in Pocahontas doesn't have any firefighters in it.

The recent flooding forced them out until they could get the building repaired.

Fire Chief Darrel Kester said this recent flooding brought more water into the building than ever before.

"Here at Fire Station #2, on the east side, we incurred approximately six to eight inches of water inside," Kester said. "It's a little difficult to tell exactly how high it was. We were in here immediately afterward and got the demolition going and removed the water soaked material. Several of my crew have been through here when this station flooded previously and they felt the water level was higher than it had gotten before."

Kester said they did manage to minimize the damage done.

"Because it was a flood," Kester said. "We were able to intervene early and got the contents of the station out, but that doesn't change the fact that the building was damaged."

Kester said having firefighters operating out of other fire station locations has caused a couple of problems.

"The main two setbacks we've had," Kester said. "Not being able to use this station is one our response time to the east side of Pocahontas. It has potentially increased anywhere from three to five minutes if the traffic is flowing good across the bridge. That's another problem we kind of have to watch all the time. The biggest difficulty we're dealing with is that for each one of my crew that manned this station, this is their home for twenty-four hours. And sometimes people don't always think about that. That these guys have routines established and they've got things they've figured out work the best for them, in terms of rapid deployment and things like that. And they have to recreate all of those habits and all of those routines because this is their home."

Kester said when they began flood repairs on the building, they discovered some extra issues.

"It's just been a little bit of a slower process than we wanted it to," Kester said. "Simply because we had to evaluate what needed to be done. Once we got into it, we found out structurally that we had some issues that had been pre-existing from the flood before."

Kester said he's proud of how the firefighters have risen to the occasion to make the situation better.

"Within our department," Kester said. "We've done a lot of evaluating to determine what our stance is going to be. I'm really proud of the way our guys have come up with good ideas, even in preparing for this one. And in terms of mitigation with the station itself, we changed around some of our emergency wiring, as far as what went to our backup generators and stuff like that."

Fire Station #2 houses one firefighter at a time, four shifts a week.

Kester said he hopes to have the firefighters back in Station #2 in twenty-one days.

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