Firemen helping to clean up areas of Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Katrina received a shipment of desperately needed supplies Sept. 17 from Fulton County.
Salem Fire Chief Heath Everett and two other volunteer firefighters transported approximately $20,000 worth of supplies and firefighting equipment to Holden, La., just outside of New Orleans.
"It was like we weren't in America," Everett said. "There were troops everywhere. Blackhawk helicopters were all over the place."
The supplies, which included bottled water, 400 pairs of socks, shirts, a pallet of Gatorade, 400 pairs of underwear, blankets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap,firefighter jackets, fire hoses, medicated foot powder and other equipment, were donated by the Fulton County Firefighters Association, local churches and county residents.
Everett said the trip was a surreal experience.
"We saw a caravan of Chicago police cars headed to New Orleans," he said. "There was another group from New York who had been down there for about a week and they looked whipped. It sure is a mess down there."
Other than the swarms of bugs, Everett said their 23-hour trip was uneventful.
Everett's father said he was impressed with Fulton County's hurricane relief efforts.
"Fulton County has come through in this crisis, Arkansas has come through in this crisis and the state government, starting at the top with the governor, has come through," said state Rep. Current Everett.
Curren Everett was at the Salem Fire Station helping to load supplies before his son, Everett, delivered the goods to the affected region.
"Everything we're doing is for the firemen who are down there working to make things better for the people of Louisiana," Everett said.
A Salem city firetruck and a Fulton County Haz-mat trailer were used to transport the supplies to the Gulf Coast.
Everett said volunteer firefighters Nick Blanton and Sam Rossito accompanied him on the trip.
The supplies were dropped off at the Ferrara plant in Holden, Everett said. Ferrara manufactures firetrucks, including the trucks used by the Salem Fire Department, he said.
The plant is being used as a staging area for supplies for the firefighters working in the area.
Everett said he contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to find out what supplies are needed.
"They told me the two things they needed most are Gatorade and medicated foot powder," Everett said. "The last time I talked to them they didn't have any Gatorade or foot powder."
He said the medicated foot powder is vital to the recovery efforts.
"They (the firemen) are walking in the water and sludge all day," Everett said. "With all the toxins in the water, those guys need some protection."
Rossito said he and Everett scoured local stores looking for Gatorade and medicated foot powder.
"We cleaned Wal-Mart out," Rossito said.
The two also bought supplies from Town and Country grocery store and the Dollar General store, both located in Salem.
Curren Everett said he bought $150 worth of Gatorade in Little Rock to send with his son. He said he and other state representatives have been impressed with the state's response to Louisiana's crisis.
"Every single community in this state is helping; it's unbelievable," Curren Everett said.
Fulton County Prosecuting Attorney Dwayne Plumlee and Carroll Fowlkes each donated $200 to help offset the fuel costs of the trip.
Everett said his crew took extra fuel because gasoline is in short supply throughout the region.
"It's a long trip, but it's a good trip," Everett said. "When you donate money you don't know where it's going or how it will be used. We know where this stuff is going and we know how it will be used."