LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana (KXAN) — First responders in Austin have volunteered to help victims of Hurricane Laura recover.
The footprint of the storm stretches for miles, from the Texas coast through Louisiana and beyond. A massive cleanup process is now underway across two states.
“Anybody that got hurt, I pray for them,” said Gary Miles, who has lived in Lake Charles for over two decades.
“Seeing this, where I grew up, it sits differently,” said 22-year-old Brenden Mitchell, who was born and raised in Lake Charles.
It rained all day in Lake Charles on Friday, adding even more difficulty in cleaning up the destruction. However, there were local and state agencies from Texas on the ground helping in multiple ways.
“Louisiana and Texas, we kind of joke with each other. But seeing them come over here and help us out, and we helped them during Harvey, I think it’s going to work out just fine,” Mitchell said.
First responders from Austin and other parts of Texas were staged 60 miles west of Lake Charles at Ford Park in Beaumont, Texas. A command center controlled the calls coming in and were deploying units on a moment’s notice.
A truck for Austin-Travis County EMS was found in the lot. The Austin Fire Department couldn’t be found — firefighters were out clearing away brush and downed trees from major roadways.
These two local units worked in tandem with the Texas A&M Forest Service.
While state and local agencies are situated in Beaumont to provide aid, in most cases, it’s up to officials in Louisiana to actually call for the extra help. That’s when they’ll be deployed across the border.
Emergency workers coordinated search and rescue missions, removed debris and repaired signage.
“We often call on other states to support us, and we do the same,” said Billy Whitworth, the Assistant Chief Regional Fire Coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service.
“It’s like a reset for us, I feel like. Hitting the reset button you lose everything. For some people, its unfortunate. But for others, it’s a new start — a blank canvas to paint a new picture,” Mitchell said.