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Tenn. firefighters provide flood relief to La. communities

Firefighters were deployed to Baton Rogue with donated relief supplies from Lowe’s

By David Cobb
The Chattanooga Times/Free Press

CLEVELAND, Tenn. The flood-ravaged portion of southeast Louisiana is nearly 600 miles away from Lowe’s on Paul Huff Parkway in Bradley County.

That didn’t stop the store and its customers from generating a couple of trailer-loads of support for the area this weekend.

Lowe’s customers tacked on $4 and $10 items to their purchases at the store’s cash registers Saturday and Sunday to buy supplies a team of 10 Cleveland firefighters will tote to Baton Rouge this morning when they go to assist with relief efforts.

Historic flooding struck parts of Louisiana last week, damaging tens of thousands of homes and forcing their occupants to evacuate.

The Cleveland firefighters will stay through Thursday, helping however they can, using and distributing the generators, trash bags, towels, chalk lines, shovels and other supplies acquired through the generosity of the store and its patrons.

“The response has been incredible,” Lowe’s store manager Shannon Ingram said Sunday. “I would say that nine out 10 people have said yes to donating. Some people want to give more.”

Ingram said the $4 and $10 items were discounted from their normal prices and the store made no money on the relief supplies.

The Cleveland Fire Department’s relief trip is also being sponsored by Cleveland Plywood, Chattanooga Trailer & Rental and Tarver Distributing.

“We caught word of the firefighters down there on the front lines struggling, needing help with relief efforts,” Cleveland firefighter Jonathan Carroll said. “So we got in contact with the folks down there and set it up for us to get down there on Monday.”

Carroll said the team plans to rendezvous at a headquarters in Baton Rouge established by local firefighters. He said he expects some of the crew’s work to include cleaning homes and ripping out Sheetrock.

Another 10 firefighters from the department will cover the shifts of the relief team.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Carroll said. “Cleveland Fire Department is going to be one of the first down there and we’re excited to get down there and start helping out.”

Ingram said 30 firefighters came to the store Sunday as the donated supplies came pouring in. A host of local politicians, including state Sens. Mike Bell and Todd Gardenhire and state Rep. Dan Howell, stopped by as well.

In a Facebook post promoting the event, Howell wrote, “This is a great way to pay it forward for the help Bradley County received after the tornados in 2011.”

“Lowe’s was great at getting the community involved and doing the drive this morning and yesterday,” Carroll said. “I’ve got to thank the community for the outpouring of support.”

Added Ingram: “People in this town are so generous.”

Copyright 2016 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press