North Dakota firefighters to help with Hurricane Ida recovery efforts in Louisiana

Eric Jensen
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

BISMARCK – A group of North Dakota firefighters will be traveling to Louisiana this week to assist with recovery efforts from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ida. Gov. Doug Burgum has approved an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), allowing a 6-person team from the Bismarck Rural and Williston Fire Departments to deploy equipment and personnel for operations along the Gulf Coast. An EMAC is an emergency response mechanism that allows states to send personnel, equipment and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states.

From left to right, Lydia Citta and Scott Nelson, of the Bismarck Rural Fire Department; and Colton Gutknecht, Mike Walters, Paul Riley and Juan Wagner, of the Williston Fire Department.

The North Dakota firefighters – two from Bismarck Rural and four from Williston – assembled today in Bismarck for coordinating instructions and will be convoying to Baton Rouge over the next two days.

“Even though there are miles between us geographically, North Dakota and Louisiana have a strong relationship through past EMAC collaboration. We have sent resources and personnel to help as far back as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Likewise, Louisiana has lent law enforcement support to us in past emergencies,” said North Dakota Homeland Security Director Cody Schulz. “We’re grateful to our firefighters for volunteering to help those in need. We will keep them in our thoughts, and we wish them well on a safe mission and return home.”

The Bismarck Rural Fire Department crew unloads its water tender before departing to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While in Louisiana, the North Dakota firefighters will work under a fire department in Baton Rouge using their 2,500-gallon and 3,000-gallon water tenders. They will be assigned to structural fire suppression missions in support of commanders on the ground.

“We are beyond proud of our members and what they are setting off to do. Without hesitation, they are answering the call and we are thankful for the partnership with Bismarck Rural. We wish them safe travels and look forward to their return,” said Williston Fire Chief Matt Clark.

Firefighters from the Williston Fire Department begin their travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to assist with Hurricane Ida recovery efforts.

“The Bismarck Rural Fire Department is honored to help support recovery efforts and our members did not hesitate to answer the call. We are thankful for the partnership with the Williston Fire Department, and I am confident that these two departments are ready to support the mission they have been called upon to complete,” said Bismarck Rural Fire Chief Dustin Theurer. “We wish both departments safe travels, a safe mission in Louisiana and safe return home."

North Dakota’s volunteer team was assembled after sourcing and coordination through the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES). North Dakota has a long history of providing EMAC support to other states. Since 2005, DES staff have supported response agencies through EMAC during disaster events in multiple locations, including: Louisiana (2005 hurricane), Mississippi (2011 flooding), Puerto Rico (2017 hurricane), Florida (2017 hurricane), Hawaii (2018 volcano), Oklahoma (2019 flooding/tornadoes) and, most recently, Oregon (2020, wildfires).

The team of North Dakota firefighters is expected to return in late September.