West Polk volunteer firefighters rebuilding after tornado
Residents in Polk county continue to rebuild after November's deadly EF-3 tornado, including West Polk Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
Residents in Polk County continue to rebuild after November's deadly EF-3 tornado, including West Polk Volunteer Fire and Rescue. Their station in Ocoee was destroyed.
Now, nearly three months after the deadly twister, firefighters are hoping for a fresh start wit the community's help.
"It was heartbreaking. When you lose one of your fire stations you know it's devastating," said West Polk volunteer firefighter, Henry Harden.
Harden said it wasn't until they got a 911 call when they realized what happened.
"We had just received a call that a tree was down on a house from an elderly lady. She said she was fine and wasn't trapped, so we were coming down and that's when we started receiving more 911 calls and once me and my chief got here we noticed the devastation. We knew then that it was a tornado."
The deadly twister demolished several homes, including West Polk fire and rescue station two, one of the busiest stations in the county.
"The only thing that was left was a front wall and one of the walls was actually laying on one of our fire trucks. We actually had to rip the doors off to get the rescue truck out and even though it was totaled we still used it," said Harden.
Since then, firefighters have been serving the community out of their headquarters in Benton.
Piles of bricks and broken glass mark where station two used to stand, but they're hoping that won't be the case for long.
Despite not having insurance, firefighters and community members have started designing a new and improved station two.
But with no insurance, they've had to get creative by collecting scraps left from the storm to rebuild with the help of volunteers.
The organization posted their Facebook page regarding government assistance. The statement is below:
"I received an email from the TEMA Director today which stated that we have not been approved to receive an assessment from FEMA . We had reviewed news media reports and other indications that an evaluation would be in short order however it appears that information was incorrect. Hopefully this week we will be updated on the status of our request. Currently there is no long term relief available for victims With the exception of the United Way. We continue to look for aid for our neighbors affected by the storms over one month ago."
Harden said the process to rebuild will take time, but the progress so far wouldn't be possible without the community's support.
"We weren't sure how we were gonna do it, but as Chief says with God's will anything's possible. So you know you gotta fight and we're a volunteer organization we fought this long you know we'll come together and it'll happen."
If you would like help firefighters with rebuilding station two you can send a monetary donation to the "West Polk Fire-Rescue building Fund" at the First Bank of Tennessee at 6195 Highway 411 Benton, TN 37307 or call (423) 338-8407.
You can also make a contribution to the fire station's GoFundMe page.