Deployed Vermont EMS ambulance convoy arrives in Forney, Texas, a town already housing 400 evacuees

Vermont crews plan to provide medical assistance at Forney shelter before deploying on FEMA orders Sunday morning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 24, 2005

CONTACT: Communication Office
(Health Operations Center) 802-657-4301

BURLINGTON, VT – Thirteen Vermont ambulances and 32 Vermont Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel arrived in Forney, Texas less than one day after an urgent statewide call by the Texas Department of State Health Services for volunteer health care professionals.

The Vermont crews arrived in Forney, located 23 miles east of Dallas, on the edge of Hurricane Rita and reported that the community is now housing more than 400 evacuees. A local church, Faith Crossing Church, had more than 60 evacuees arrive Friday night, but still planned to send cots and recliners to the Forney Fire Station so that the Vermonters would not have to sleep on the floor.

“We have maxed out two or three times with 200 evacuees in the church,” said Lauren Cody, wife of church Pastor Lester Cody. “We continue to place the evacuees in houses and apartments as rapidly as possible.”

The church is currently doing 35-40 loads of laundry a day for evacuees. A school bus stop sign was placed outside the church so that children of evacuees could attend classes wearing school uniforms donated by the community. The town is nearly out of fuel and is no longer selling gas to the public. Only fire trucks and ambulances are allowed to have tanks filled at the local truck stop.

“This isn’t a long-term shelter, it is just a church with volunteers working around the clock and we have people mailing us clothes from around the country. It has been a blessing, really. We have showers and a gym,” Cody said. “We are a relatively small congregation with 250 people. We had 500 on Sunday.”

The Vermont crews plan to offer medical service assistance at the church. The crews anticipate that they will be dispatched Sunday morning by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to either East Texas Medical Center in Tyler; or Woodville, a small town close to Tyler County Hospital and the Louisiana border.

“The Vermont crews appear to be perfectly positioned to respond,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “The team is ready and eager to get to work doing whatever is needed.”