Home at last.
After nearly four years, the Refugio Volunteer Fire Department has a new place to call home.
“Oh it's great,” said Refugio VFD Chief Ronnie Williams. “It's a wonderful feeling. It's a relief.”
A new fire station finally replaces their previous facility, badly damaged in the catastrophic winds of Hurricane Harvey.
"We only caught five minutes of the west side of the eye,” he said. “It was only five minutes that there wasn't wind blowing here in this town."
The eyewall of Harvey packed winds in excess of 130 miles per hour, battering Refugio for hours and shredding the roof of the fire station, like many other structures in the area.
"From the day the wind quit blowing with Hurricane Harvey, until the day all of our equipment was back and out of the weather, because the roof leaked the whole time after Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “It took 1,438 days for that to happen."
The 61-year-old fire station was demolished in April, and on Aug. 2, 2021, the RVFD finally had a new place to call home.
The new facility has a few upgrades too, such as larger bay doors and way to keep personnel safe.
"It's called a biohazard room,” Williams said. “That's just a huge deal. So we have a room that we come back in off-scene. Your gear and stuff comes off, goes in a bag -- everyone will have a second set of gear clean in their locker -- and all that stuff goes in this room to be washed and cleaned before it comes back out into the truck bay. It'll have all those hazards that are cleaned off that gear.”
Cleaning equipment in-house will be safer and more effective for the department.
Williams said this new facility is a weight off the shoulders of the men and women of his department who have endured work in the shadow of the storm for the last 4 years.
"It says something about their true. . . . what their heart's about,” he said. “Their heart is truly a service heart -- to help protect their community. For them to be able to withstand the grueling conditions that they went through."