North Dakota firefighters head to Louisiana to help with Hurricane Ida cleanup

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 4:22 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - When Hurricane Ida blasted ashore on Sunday, it was one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States.

Ida knocked out power to all of New Orleans, blew roofs off buildings and even reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.

Now that cleanup is underway, some North Dakota firefighters are on their way to help.

Mike Walters has never been to Louisiana.

“I have not,” the Williston firefighter said.

He’s also never seen the damage caused by a hurricane.

“No I haven’t,” Walters said.

Still, he and five other North Dakota firefighters have volunteered to do what they can to help clean up from Hurricane Ida.

“This is actually a first for a lot of us on the department. We are just honored to be able to go down and help where help is needed,” Walters said.

Walters is one of four Williston firefighters taking this water tender to Louisiana.

“It’s a tender truck, and it’s also got a boom on it so we can spray a lot of water a long ways. And we can haul a lot of water,” Walters explained.

For the first time in department history, Bismarck Rural Fire is sending firefighters out of state to help.

“I’ve seen tornado damage. I’m kind of expecting it to be a little like that but probably a lot worse,” said Lydia Citta, Bismarck rural firefighter.

Citta is one of two Bismarck rural firefighters making the trip.

“We’re taking our tanker 17,” she explained. “It hauls water so we do have some things that we can do as far as firefighter suppression.”

The firefighters will be gone for 18 days. It will take about 26 hours to get from Bismarck to Baton Rouge. Once they arrive there, they’ll get their assignments.

“We’ll do fire rescue, fire suppression and whatever they need help doing,” said Walters. “We are going down to do what we need to do.”

“We want to be able to be a resource to help people. That’s what all of us got into profession for. We want to help people,” added Citta.

Whether those people are in North Dakota, or thousands of miles away.

The firefighters are hoping to make it to Baton Rouge by Friday. They’ll be boots on the ground in Louisiana for 14 days, then take another two days to drive home.

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