Rebuilding starts for Polk fire station destroyed by tornado
Rebuilding continues after a tornado tore a path of destruction through Polk County last November. Two people were killed and several homes and buildings damaged.
Rebuilding continues after a tornado tore a path of destruction through Polk County last November. Two people were killed and several homes and buildings damaged. One of those buildings was the West Polk Volunteer Fire and Rescue station in Ocoee.
Work on the station's foundation finally started around the first of July after months of funding issues and slow-downs due to mother nature.
"We've got footers dug. They're getting ready to pour the concrete for the footers. We've had a set back due to weather with all the rain, but for the most part we should be back on track," says Chief Keith Jeske.
The EF-3 tornado destroyed the small station in the early morning hours of November 30. Grants from Home Depot along with private donations helped get the construction of the new station off the ground.
"We're very pleased with the support we've gotten so far. The community's been outstanding. County officials, city officials," says Deputy Chief Steve Lofty, who was the Chief at the time of the tornado.
The volunteer firefighters themselves are braving the summer heat, working around their regular jobs to help. Lofty says the main contractor, Ed Scoggins, is donating his time.
"We'll put in work, then we'll take a break. They're not working us too hard. We work at our own pace," says volunteer firefighter Greg Livers.
He and the other firefighters feel proud to be rebuilding what they consider one of their "homes away from home".
"We've been out here since the tornado...until the time we broke ground on this building," adds Livers.
Station 2 is one of seven in west Polk County. There's enough money to construct a minimally functional replacement, but they still need another ten to twenty thousand dollars to truly complete the new building which is expected to be almost twice as big as the old one.
"It'll be completed far enough that we can house equipment and begin to respond from this area again," explains Lofty.
The total estimated cost of the project is $70,000-$80,000 and the group continues to take donations. Lofty says the goal is to have the new station up and running by early September, weather permitting.