Texas calls, Burleson responds
Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell said some of the sights he witnessed during his deployment to the Texas Gulf Coast area for relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey were unbelievable.
Cordell, along with three others from the Burleson police and fire departments, deployed to the area with a mobile command unit that is used by both the police and fire departments.
Travelling first to a staging area in San Antonio with Cordell and the Burleson Incident Command Center were Burleson Police Sgt. Bob Sherman, Fire Marshall David Butler and firefighter James Pribble.
The team and the Burleson Incident Command Center were deployed twice to areas hit hard by Harvey’s wrath. First, they were sent to Katy Mills Mall and later moved to Beaumont.
In both locations, they supported other units with communications.
“We were never going to be the ones out doing rescues,” Cordell said. “We were deployed as a communications platform to support another group if they needed it. That’s always the plan. That’s why we have that mobile command post.”
The group returned to Burleson early Friday morning and was demobilized on Sunday. The possibility exists they could be called back at a later date if needed.
“We did our part in areas that were completely devastated,” Cordell said. “We were proud to be down there representing Burleson. We didn’t do a whole lot, quite frankly but we may end up going back at some point in the future. If we are called to return we will be proud to go back.”
Driving to Katy from San Antonio and later to Beaumont were eye-opening for Cordell and others on the trip.
“The devastation caused by the water was amazing,” Cordell said. “We were driving into Katy and both sides of the road that were normally grass land are lakes. The amount of water everywhere was unbelievable. There were cars at an intersection near Katy Mills Mall that were sitting in water halfway up their sides.”
The trip to Beaumont was fraught excitement.
While servicing the vehicles in Crosby, a call came over their radios to leave the area quickly.
There was trouble at a chemical plant in Crosby and where they had stopped was too close tothe plant. The fear of an explosion and the venting of possible deadly chemicals had them leaving the area quickly.
About 20 miles from Beaumont, the group had to drive through high water in the city of Nome.
“We were sweating that out pretty good for about two miles,” Cordell said. “Along the way to Beaumont we passed a fifth-wheel trailer park and the trailers are in a lake with the water halfway up on the trailers.”
With Texans needing help, Burleson answered the call and will answer the call if needed, Cordell said.