CLAY COUNTY, Ala (WIAT) — A volunteer fire department in east Alabama is back in a new building just a few months after a tornado destroyed their fire station in late March.
The severe storm leveled the building and forced the County Line Volunteer Fire Department in Clay County to remove all of the fire trucks from service.
Monday night, crews had their first meeting in the new building that was rebuild with help from the community.
“If you looked at it that day and you looked up and down the road and you looked at this building, and you looked at what was left and you come back this short time later, I would have thought it would have been a year or longer before we could have gotten back,” said Assistant Chief Douglas Kirk, who has been living in the area for nearly 40 years.
Kirk recalled the department’s meeting room was the only portion of the building that remained after the storm.
Over the past few months, neighbors have volunteered to help rebuild the department. Nearly 100 people showed up to help on the first day of a cleanup organized by the Clay County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association
“We have had people in the community who have had their houses damaged, lost a lot of stuff, to come and give to the fire department, to come and give their time to the fire department. It is very touching. It has just been overwhelming. It has really touched me to see the outpouring of support,” said County Line VFD Chief Greg Mask.
Mask has been the chief in the area for almost 3 decades. He said the new station will allow crews to respond faster. The team encountered challenges after losing their headquarters.
“We were still able to respond, but we had to go to different people’s houses to pick up the equipment,” said Mask.
There is also some new equipment that was donated by other departments.
The Cliffwood Volunteer Fire Department in Aberdeen Township New Jersey gave the department a new truck that came fully loaded.
“With the extrication equipment and stuff that we have, the generator, the extra lights that we have, we get in a wreck now, we can immediately come to the fire department and we can respond rather than waiting on somebody else to get here so it might be life or death to somebody,” said Kirk.
Other departments from Clay County and beyond have benefited from the out of state donations
Leaders are grateful for the assistance and are glad to have a place to call home once again.
“If it was not for the help and generosity of the people across this country, county line wouldn’t be here where we are at now,” said Mask.
The building needs a few finishing touches inside, Mask said, but otherwise is ready to go.