Biloxi firefighters to leave for Sandy-stricken areas

Four volunteering Biloxi firefighters are planning to leave for Staten Island Friday to transport a load of cleaning supplies and spend 12 days cleaning and demolishing homes in the storm-stricken area, as other Biloxi firefighters are continuing local relief efforts.

The traveling firefighters, who are using personal leave time and a van rented by the Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi, are expected to arrive in Staten Island to join relief efforts of a team of firefighters from New Sharon, Iowa.

“We had members of the New Sharon Fire Department who came here and helped us quite a bit after Katrina and they’ve been in New York since Saturday,” said Biloxi Battalion Chief Joe Boney. “We’ll be working with them to help out in the Breezy Point and Rockaway areas, where they have 200 retired firefighters and 160 active duty firefighters who live within a 10-mile radius.

“We’ll be gutting homes and getting them ready for permanent repairs. We’ll also be carrying up cleaning supplies, including 50 five-gallon buckets of material that was donated by the Methodist church on Popp’s Ferry Road, personal hygiene kits, and Lowe’s donated $500 in supplies. The community outpouring so far has been great.”

Besides Boney, the firefighters are Kenny Matlock of Biloxi, retired Biloxi firefighter Rocky Smith, and Fire Museum President Rick Murden, a volunteer firefighter with the Harrison County Fire Service in Woolmarket.

Fellow Biloxi firefighters adjusted their shifts to fill in for Boney and Matlock, who are expected to return to Biloxi Nov. 28.

Meantime, two other storm-related relief efforts are continuing at the fire department.

Toy drive: Biloxi firefighters are also collecting toys that New York firefighters will distribute to Gulf Coast families Dec. 7-8.

“This year, the same firefighters who have visited us each year are still planning to come because they want to honor their commitment that they made seven years ago,” said Capt. Michelle Crowley of the Biloxi Fire Department. “So, in honor of their request, we’re collecting toys at all nine firehouses in Biloxi, and these dedicated firefighters will have toys to distribute for needy Gulf Coast families when they get here.

“With all of the issues they’re having they still want to help us. They don’t want to see their efforts die.”

Those interested in helping in the toy drive can drop an unwrapped new toy between now and Dec. 6 at any of the nine fire stations in Biloxi.

Firefighters in Mobile are helping the New York firefighters collect toys for needy families in Bayou La Batre, Ala., another area the New York firefighters had adopted.

Barbecue luncheon: The all-volunteer Biloxi Fire Museum and volunteers from the fire department will be hosting a barbecue luncheon on Dec. 14 to raise funds to purchase gift cards for storm victims in the Breezy Point, Rockaway, and Staten Island areas.

The luncheon, which will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fire museum, will feature a menu of a Gator Bomb Sandwich (alligator sausage, barbecue pork, and cole slaw on a bun) or a
barbeque pork sandwich, with potato salad and baked beans. Tea will be provided for those who dine at the museum.
Details: (228) 324-7461.

Print the fliers: To print an informational flyer about the toy drive, click here. To print a flyer about the barbecue luncheon, click here.