Low, but still flying!
Amid all the coverage from other portions of the State of Alabama, the northern portion of Choctaw County has been somewhat “forgotten” in the mix. On Wednesday evening a deadly EF-3 tornado was on the ground and churning across the state line where it caused multiple deaths in the Clarke County, Mississippi area. The tornado tore into the Cromwell-Halsell and Edna communities with fury and thankfully there were no deaths, but plenty of injuries and massive damage. The men and women of the HCVFD and civilians in the community went straight to work getting the roads open and taking care of the injured. Units from the Choctaw County Rescue Squad and other fire and EMS services were on the scene along with the Choctaw County S.O. When the sun came up the next morning the true nature of the damage was just beginning to sink in. The Cromwell-Halsell area is located along the north and south sides of Choctaw County Road 32. The tornado followed the county road and crossed in multiple times forcing rescuers to open one section of the road and then move to the next location where the storm crossed the road.
The members of the HCVFD were out taking care of their community while many left damaged homes behind. In addition to the damage to personal property the fire station was destroyed and the apparatus housed there was damaged and not serviceable after the storm. Chief Willie Bryant stated that, “I knew the station was destroyed when I found the checkbook of the lady who lived across from the fire station miles down the road.” Other members of the department stated that they were in tears when the looked at the destruction of their station. The HCVFD is a relatively new fire department and the building that served as their station was only a few years old. By morning assistance was on the way from various sources and Choctaw County Sheriff Tom Abate was in the area to lend assistance with his deputies. Before the sun set on Thursday Ray Hogans, AAVFD District 8 Director, was securing equipment from his area to assist the department. On Friday morning he left with two engines and other equipment to put the department back in service as a firefighting force. Chief Gib Hixon, Fish River/Marlow Fire and Rescue, arrived with his command and went directly to work assisting the department in cleaning up their area. By Saturday evening the cleanup of the fire station was well underway and the area was working hard to get back to normal. It is going to be a long way back to normal for the area and the HCVFD and the people in this little corner of the world could sure use your help.
First look inside the building at HCVFD.
The department’s newest engine showing quite a bit of damage after the station landed on it.
The departments oldest engine recieved some cosmetic damage, but will return to service rather quickly. This old work horse was formally Cuba Fire Deparmtent’s Engine 2. Notice how the tornado unloaded the hose from both engines.
The office and meeting area at the department.
Standing where the office used to be.
The rear of the apparatus bay.
A look at the station from the road.
On Saturday, the Fish River/Marlow Fire Rescue and members from the Butler Fire Department were on scene to assist the HCVFD in clearning up their station.
One of the engines provided by Ray Hogans alongside the deparmtent’s damaged and out of service apparatus.