Monday, August 31, 2009

Update: People of the Parish - Fire Chief Thomas Stone

April 2009: Fire Chief Stone with Tumwater Teens, a volunteer work group

Fire Chief Thomas Stone is a well-respected leader within the St. Bernard Parish community. In fact, he and his firefighters were instrumental in rescuing and caring for the St. Bernard Parish residents who were stranded by floodwaters for a week post-Katrina. If you'd like to find out more, a book has been written about this, entitled The St. Bernard Fire Department in Hurricane Katrina by Michelle Mahl Buuck.

Chief Stone took the time to meet with me on two occasions. Once, he spoke with a volunteer group of teenagers I chaperoned. The second time was a few weeks ago, when I was gathering information about the current state of recovery in the parish.

All of the fire stations were flooded during Katrina. Chief Stone is still focused on getting the fire stations and staff level back to pre-Katrina standards. The department has applied for a federal grant, and he is hoping that will come through to provide the department with much-needed funding.

Chief Stone views St. Bernard Project as a "community leader," and states the community would not have survived without them and the thousands of volunteers from all over the country.

Sadly, there is a new threat facing the homeowners of St. Bernard Parish. Many homeowners, including Chief Stone, purchased Chinese drywall - a product known to pose health hazards and erode electrical wires and equipment. Having just finished their homes, many are without the tens of thousands of dollars to tear down this toxic drywall and replace it.

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