Gumbo, red beans and rice, and brisket |

Gumbo, red beans and rice, and brisket

Greg Treece
Greg Treece/Special to the Daily The first engine the author, volunteer firefighter Greg Treece, was assigned to the station in Belle Chasse, southeast of New Orleans.

BELLE CHASSE, La. – Tonight I spoke with the man that lives in the house behind the local fire chief.

Like the chief, his house was also flooded with about 14 inches of water. He said that flooding is what he was dreading more than anything else. He said he was prepared to rebuild if his house was blown down, but he dreaded having to reclaim his house from flooding. He said he expected it to be a year before he was able to live in his house again, and is awaiting word from Federal Emergency Management Agency as to whether or not he’ll be able to get one of the hundreds of thousands of campers they have available – to live in while he repairs his house.The southern Belle Chasse fire station has also been a distribution point for food, water and ice for local residents, contractors and relief workers. When we arrived, we took over distribution duties from the New Mexico National Guard, who had been manning the station.

They continued to bring us Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and water. Until yesterday, we had a semi trailer full of ice to distribute as well. That trailer was pulled out. It’s unclear to us when we’ll get more ice to distribute. We’re also out of water at that distribution point, but other locations in the parish do have water available. A semi full of prepared meals (but not MREs) also showed up yesterday afternoon, and we unloaded the entire semi into the fire station, and continued to distribute food to anyone that showed up.We estimated that the semi contained a total of about 18,000 meals. I expect that this type of work will continue most, if not all of our time here. It has been a good challenge to try to become familiar with the area, and the fire department’s equipment. The local firefighters that remain here have been helping us get around, and have been taking good care of us.

The municipal water supply is functional, and we’ve had electricity and comfortable housing. They’ve been cooking for us every night at the central station.We were all prepared for two weeks of MREs, and instead have been overwhelmed with meals that include gumbo, barbecued chicken, red beans and rice and pulled pork brisket, all made right here at the fire station.We also had a resident that came by the south station Thursday that brought in a big pot of gumbo for us to have for lunch. Jason’s Deli brought in a box full of sandwiches for us as well.The residents have been upbeat, though many had been concerned about what Rita would bring. Rita is about to make landfall, and it’s clear that we’ve escaped the strong winds and rain. We are still expecting windy conditions and rain for several days, and storm surge from the gulf, but I don’t think there will be any more significant damage from Rita.Everyone that we have spoken to has been very appreciative of us being here. Many of them have wanted to shake our hands, and get a picture with us.Today (Saturday), we’re doing truck inventories and checks and a lot of cleanup at the north station.Vail, Colorado

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