PELL CITY — While severe and deadly flooding pounded central Alabama on Wednesday night, a group of first responders from Pell City mobilized to rescue 30 people in Pelham.
Pell City Fire Chief Tim Kurzejeski said that during the Wednesday rain storms that took the lives of four people, he and a small group ofPell City firefighters and one Pell City police officer responded to a mutual aid request from the City of Pelham.
The chief said at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency called St. Clair County EMA to put in a request for aid dealing with the flooding in Pelham.
“The whole corridor was battling flooding issues,” Kurzejeski said, “Their normal mutual aid partners were busy.”
So he and his team took the hour-long drive to Pelham to offer aid after getting the go ahead from City Manager Brian Muenger. The manager said Pell City was having comparatively milder weather and was glad that the city had personnel ready to help.
“It was certainly a unique situation,” Muenger said, “but that's why we have mutual aid agreements.”
The chief said after they arrived they were paired up with a team from Vestavia Hills and assigned a neighborhood. He said they then got to work. Kurzejeski said he and his team used specialized rollout equipment along with inflatable watercraft from Vestavia and Pelham Fire Departments to go from house to house looking for people in need of assistance.
“We assisted in about 30 people being rescued from that neighborhood.” The Chief said.
During this, he said rescue workers were in water as deep as six feet and often flowing through the neighborhood.
Kurzejeski is quick to point out that such mutual aid situations are not uncommon in the fire service and helping each other out is a big part of the culture of the service nationwide, but particularly in central Alabama.
“It's what the fire service in our area is all about,” he said. “We never thought twice about going to help them. This is what we do.”
Kurzejeski said that one day Pell City may need the same assistance and will likely receive it from surrounding departments, just like it often does from Riverside or Lincoln on local fire calls.
On a more basic level, he said to him and his team it was just going and doing what they have spent most of their lives doing.
“To me and the guys that went down there the other night, it's doing our job,” he said.
Muenger, however, saw it as a testament to the level of service Pell City’s public safety staff provide both to the city and the area.
“I am just proud we have people who are able to get out and help people in their time of need,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes for the quality of service they provide.”