Vermont Firefighters Continue To Answer Call For Help In Harrison County

Those who promise to protect their communities have an unbreakable bond. So, when Katrina hammered South Mississippi, firefighters from Vermont knew they had to respond.

The first crew arrived Thanksgiving week, helping homeowners dig out from the debris. This week, another team returned to Harrison County to reach out to their brothers in need. The Vermont firefighters keep answering the call for help.

Instead of hauling water hoses, and trying to reach trapped victims, firefighters are responding to a very different emergency -- save a house that's been battered by Katrina. The nine men are with the Stowe Volunteer Fire Department of Vermont.

Eric Beattie said, "It really touched my heart to be able to be down here, helping where we are."

The house they're trying to rescue belongs to Pass Christian volunteer firefighter Xavier Thornton. John Schnee knew Thornton and other South Mississippi firefighters needed plenty of reinforcement to rebuild.

"You feel pain in your heart for all the families down here," said John Schnee. "You see the children. I didn't know he had a child until this morning. When he walked in with him, it certainly makes your heart sink. But it gives you motivation to help out."

Beattie said, "We're down here helping them and knowing that they would help us if we ever needed it."

And Thornton is grateful that brotherhood is there to back him up.

Thornton told the volunteers, "I really appreciate it. I couldn't have done it alone. You've really helped out man. This is an amazing job, so thank you. Thank you. God bless you."

So far, the Vermont volunteers have worked on seven homes belonging to local firefighters. Besides repairing houses, they also respond to fire calls for the Harrison County Fire Service.