CLERMONT HARBOR, MS (WLOX) - More than five years after Hurricane Katrina, a new station still is not finished for the Clermont Harbor Volunteer Fire Department. That means there's no place to house the department's brand new fire trucks.
The shell of the fire station is complete, but inside there is still quite a bit of work left to do. It should have been finished in May of 2010.
"Here we are right at 9 months over, going into ten months," Chief Charles Jackson said. "The contractor just kind of drug it out."
And while construction crews work to complete the building, more than a half million dollars worth of brand new fire trucks, paid for by FEMA, sit unprotected in the front yard of one of the fire district's commissioners.
"We didn't have a place to keep the trucks to keep them out of the weather, and it was a constant battle to try to keep them going. And anytime we get below freezing, it takes one or two trucks out of service. The water freezes up in the pumps and you can't use them. So we notify the central dispatcher that we're out of service," Chief Jackson explained.
"The equipment on the trucks has been stolen from being out in the open. The equipment is going to ruin having to sit out in the weather. The holes are getting dry rotted and all that's going to have to be replaced after we get it in the station," Assistant Fire Chief Duane Ray said.
On top of that, the department lost most of its firefighters after the storm.
"We went from 22 people in the fire department down to right now we've got about eight," Chief Jackson said. "People have left here and there are no young people. We went from 2,500 people in the Clermont and Lakeshore area and we're down to less than 300."
Jackson said once their new training room is ready, they will be able to recruit new members.. But when that might happen, he said, is anybody's guess. Chief Jackson says the completion date will depends on the contractor.
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