Paying it Forward, and Backward - Moore Fire Fighters Assist in Houston CleanupOct 05, 2017
When Hurricane Harvey finally cleared off the Gulf of Mexico, leaving nearly all of Houston in ruins, the people of Moore knew at least something of what Houstonians were going through. Moore’s numerous devastating tornados have put it on the receiving end of nationwide assistance more than once. For a group of ten Moore fire fighters, Harvey’s destruction was an opportunity to pay back the help we’ve received in the past, while paying forward their assistance as an act of generosity.
“Every single one of us on the force wanted to go down to help,” said Bryce Dallarosa, Corporal with the Moore Fire Department. “We get so much as firemen from our city. But it felt good to give back to a community in need. It was a city in need and an opportunity, so I took it.”
“I think all of us, from the oldest guys to the new guys, were mentally unprepared for the amount of devastation,” said Corley Moore, Major with the Moore Fire Department. “Just entire lives piled up on curbs, just soaked and ruined.”
Moore’s fire union 2047 organized the trip to Houston, hastily selecting ten firemen who were willing to sacrifice their vacation time to serve in Houston for ten days. Younger team members who didn’t have enough vacation days were covered by fellow firemen who stayed behind, willing to work extra shifts on their behalf.
According to Moore, “We had to throw the group together fairly quickly. But I think if we had taken weeks to plan the group, we couldn’t have put together a better team. Everyone’s attitude was, ‘can we go work, can we go do something, can we go help?’”
Moore experienced three tornados while serving with the Moore Fire Department. While the destruction from Moore’s tornados was immense, he believes it paled in comparison to what the team experienced in Houston.
“A tornado is nature’s smart bomb and a hurricane is nature’s nuclear bomb,” said Moore. “The devastation of a tornado is very acute and defined in what it destroys. But the destruction from a hurricane, everything is ruined. All of your stuff has to go. It really blew me away.”
The team worked about twenty locations including churches and homes, helping to clear debris and prep buildings for renovation work. It was ten days of grunt work in filthy conditions, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
“The people were overly positive,” said Dallarosa. “That was the best part. Not a single person who wasn’t overly appreciative. Everyone tried to hug us, even though we were covered in dirt. The people were so gracious.”
According to Moore, “We went and worked at a church that was damaged by the hurricane to get it cleaned up. When they set it up, they told the pastor ten guys from the Moore Fire Department were coming to help, and he was depressed. He said they needed a hundred guys. But when we were done and he was saying thank you, he was crying and he said, ‘I can’t believe what you ten guys did.’ It really was a sense of gratitude and overwhelmed appreciation.”
Now as numerous hurricanes continue to batter the Caribbean and Florida, the Moore team has a new appreciation for the challenges that lie ahead.
Dallarosa commiserates with what Floridians are now experiencing, “I feel so bad for those people. I just don’t know how they’re going to get enough people to help. I feel like we need every person in the United States to help to even make a drop in the bucket. Just us going down there, the houses and church we did was such a minute part in the recovery of the city.”
But lots of drops can eventually fill the bucket, and that’s exactly what the Moore team saw in Houston as they encountered volunteers from all corners of the country. Their hope is the same will happen in Florida and other southern states impacted by recent hurricanes. They see the disasters as opportunities.
According to Moore, “It felt good to give back as a fire department to another city in need and all of us are proud that we made that happen.”