May 15, 2018 … one of the craziest days (and weeks) in the history of Beacon Falls. An F-1 tornado ripped through town, leaving more than 95 percent of our community without power and still leaving its scars in many locations across town. Bear with us for a minute as we remember that wild week and offer a whole lot of appreciation.
Luckily, there were no serious injuries and we all know that the storm could have been a lot worse in so many ways.
The work that Beacon Hose members did in the immediate aftermath and ensuing week will remain one of our department’s proudest times as long as we exist. The number itself is impressive — about 125 emergency calls, damage assessments, and welfare checks in just a few days, a number that would usually represent about half the calls we do in an entire year. But there were many more reasons to be proud.
- So many of our men and women dropped everything at their own homes and worried about the community first, placing on the back burner any damage their own property may have suffered. Many took time off from work to continue to respond to calls in the ensuing couple of days.
- We opened up a temporary 911 call center at the firehouse to make sure we could prioritize and efficiently respond to as many emergency (and non-emergency) calls as possible.
- We fielded calls and social media messages asking us to check up on family members who were out of reach, and we did as much as we could to give everyone as much peace of mind as possible.
- In one situation, a crew walked down the tree-riddled Cold Spring Road to retrieve insulin from a diabetic resident so we could store it in our firehouse’s refrigerator.
- We cooked meals for first responders, police, public works, and Eversource workers.
- Finally, we just wanted to make sure to keep all of our residents as informed as possible. We know the worst feeling is to feel like you don’t know what’s going on, so we hope our constant updates on social media that week made the situation at least a little better.
We’re proud to say that as the town has applied for FEMA reimbursement to aid in disaster relief, all the volunteer hours (an estimated 781 hours) and equipment use hours (an estimated 174 hours) will result in approximately $20,000 of the larger reimbursement Beacon Falls hopes to receive in the near future. Our volunteers literally paid off for the community.
In closing, we cannot overstate how much we appreciate our Beacon Hose volunteers and this community, and we know so many of your appreciate our work, too. Thousands of our residents show their gratitude through supporting our part of the town budget, sending us messages, making donations, and attending our events — especially our carnival — and we don’t take any of that lightly. Those funds we raise at our events might not pay for new firetrucks or chainsaws, but they do help us give back many thousands to our community (scholarships, youth sports, and so much more) and to our own members (food during emergency responses, for one).
May 15, 2018, was a prime example of why we do what we do, and we couldn’t be prouder to do it for Beacon Falls.