Hardin Co. firefighters share stories from North Carolina hurricane relief

JACKSON, Tenn. — Floodwaters as far as the eye can see didn’t stop local fire departments from heading to Laurinburg, North Carolina, this past week to lend a helping hand.

“We had a hard time getting into Laurinburg due to the flooding in those places,” said Capt. Matt Oakley of the Hardin County Fire Department. “Had anywhere between two and four feet of water across them, had some bridges that were weak and breaking down.”

Along with flooded homes and roads, firefighters from Hardin County say they removed thousands of downed trees, and most importantly, they say they were able to relieve crews that had been working there for 48 hours straight.

“Just the thought of them being able to go home and be with their families after being gone for two days straight, take care of some of their own personal stuff at home, was probably one of the biggest blessings that we received out of it,” Oakley said.

Crews say the Army National Guard is supplying residents with food and drinking water, and a local church has been supplying them with shelter and hospitality. As of Thursday, firefighters say they believe the worst is over.

“For the most part, power has been restored, water has been restored,” Oakley said.

“Of course there’s still a lot of standing water, and they’re expecting some rain the next few days, but we’re in pretty good shape right now,” said Assistant Chief Rick Guardino of the Hardin County Fire Department.

They say they know things can only get better if they work together.

“We do this because you never know when Tennessee is going to need help,” Guardino said. “We’d like to be able to call on someone else to help us. So when they make the call, we want to be able to go out and serve their citizens as well, because we’d like to call on their help sometime.”

Other local departments assisting in the area include Chapel Hill, Madison County and Martin.

Hardin County firefighters say they should be back in town by Friday afternoon.

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