Sweetwater First Responders recognized for Hurricane relief efforts at City Hall

By: 
JOSEPH GRANT
Staff Writer

With media cameras blazing, medals for Meritorious Service were awarded by both Fire Chief Grant Madden and Sweetwater Police Chief Brian Frieda at the City Commissioner’s meeting at City Hall on Tuesday morning, September 12.
The medals were given for two men from each department in recognition of their exemplary performance while assisting those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Madden spoke first and told of the Sweetwater Fire Department’s experience in the hurricane-afflicted areas in and around Houston.
Deployed in the midst of the hurricane, Madden spoke of how they were initially sent down as ambulance staging managers and sent from San Antonio staging to set up staging at Tully Stadium and Spring Branch right near Katy. “Houston’s emergency services had used this area before and they had a good lay out of the area. The DPS here, Game Wardens there and we were out marshaling trucks and we could see the helicopters all over the place, the Coast Guard and I could hear one of the pilots say about how the floodgates are opening, the water is flowing out at exponential rate and it’s about a foot before it goes over and it’s not going down, it’s going up. They were not freaking out, just passing it along. So we gathered all of equipment and we basically run for the hills, head east and I know the Lord works in mysterious ways but I never thought it would include a gas station. The Katy firemen called corporate headquarters and they said, not only go in and use the bathroom, but get food get drinks and make yourselves at home. We didn’t eat one MRE all the time we were there.”
An outdoor sports store donated twenty jon boats and fifteen motors.
An apartment complex of about eighty people were on a lily pad, which is basically water all around and no way out. The firemen were deployed to this area with the boats and National Guard trucks to help people to safety.
“The thing that impressed me is that the guys were always ready to do the task at hand. That’s what impressed me with the deployment. The law enforcement, my guys were always ready to help. Very impressive.”
Chef Frieda then spoke: “We didn’t deploy quite as early as Chief Madden’s group. We were a couple of days behind him. And in fact, hen we put out the list of officers that were willing and ready to go, we were told thank you, however, it would probably be later in the week, possibly the following week before anyone would be deployed from the Sweetwater Police. It turned out that it was a matter of hours, not days before these two gentlemen found each other on the road to Houston. And upon arriving, at I believe it was at Katy Mills Mall, which itself was found to be flooded, they were assigned to the Harris County Sheriff’s Department High Risk Water Rescue Squad. Shortly after that, they were put through various rigors, from crowd control and the most significant was the anti-looting detail. And then, responding to the active shooter calls that were going on in the areas of Houston that are gang-ridden and full of drug lords. So to come from Sweetwater and thrust into a situation in Houston on any given day, much less after the ravages of Hurricane Harvey is to be commended. They found themselves with details going in with rifles, handguns and Tasers, trying to clear up backlogs of calls. For them to walk into a completely unfamiliar area such as this and to conduct themselves as they have, they are to be commended.”
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