UPDATED: Lexington water rescue team headed to Texas to help after flooding

08/30/2017 03:26 PM

*UPDATE: Despite being packed up and ready to go, a Lexington Fire Department water rescue team will no longer be needed in Texas.

According to Mayor Jim Gray’s office, the crew received a call to assist victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. However, while waiting to leave Kentucky on Wednesday, they received word that too many relief crews were activated. They will now return to standby status.


A rescue team from the Lexington Fire Department has been deployed to Texas to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The water rescue team left on Wednesday for nine days in College Station, which is approximately 95 miles outside of Houston. The team includes 18 personnel, two boats, suburbans, a passenger van, an F550 truck and a Support trailer.

“It really shows something about our city,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. “I’ve had so many people ask me, ‘How can we help?’ And this is a real illustration of that.”

Gray reiterated that the relief efforts of the team will not deplete the city’s own emergency services personnel. He also says the team’s willingness to leave their own lives behind to help flooding victims in another state is another example of their core mission.

“Their mission when they joined was to train for events like this. To care for others. To protect others,” said Gray. “That’s what our public safety is all about.”

Lexington Fire Chief Kristen Chilton says she will worry for the crew’s safety but is confident in their training.

“Every day we experience new things that maybe we’ve never come to deal with before,” said Chilton. “That’s why you do so much training and why it’s so important that you are trained to always be prepared to deal with whatever situation you’re given.”

One of the members helping out in Texas is Wes Gilliam, who is no stranger to hurricane relief. Gilliam was among 50 Lexington and Louisville emergency personnel who were deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“This is what we train for and I’ll put our people and our training up against anybody in the nation,” said Gilliam. “It’s an honor to get to go and help people out. I feel like we’re well prepared to do that.”

The remains of Harvey will impact Kentucky in the form of widespread, heavy rain starting Thursday night and lasting through Friday night. Rain totals could exceed two inches and result in localized flooding. Follow @SpecNewsKY for updates.


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