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Ford Cliff firefighters head to Oklahoma

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 8:20 a.m.
Josh Adams, one of five Ford Cliff volunteer firefighters going to Oklahoma, checks out equipment Thursday that can be used to help with clean up efforts in communities devastated by the tornado. BRIGID BEATTY I LEADER TIMES

FORD CLIFF — Help is on the way from one local fire department to an area about 1,200 miles away devastated by Sunday's tornado.

Five volunteers from Ford Cliff fire department prepared one of the company vehicles before leaving on Thursday evening to help with cleanup efforts in outlying areas near Moore, Okla.

Josh Adams, Joe Peluso, Tag Hecker, Bob Turek and Keith Beckett will be spending the holiday weekend away from family and friends to remove debris and wreckage in communities torn up by the killer weather.

Adams, who is a lieutenant with the fire department with eight years experience, spearheaded the effort after watching the televised news coverage of the destruction wrought by the tornado.

“I feel if a tornado hit Ford Cliff, someone would come out from places like Oklahoma, hand me a bottle of water and help me clean up my house,” said Adams.

So he made contact with emergency management personnel in Moore who told him about towns like Carney and Shawnee which were hit hard.

“Carney is totally demolished,” said Adams.

“It's similar in size to Ford Cliff.”

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Orton said the five-man crew was taking the company's quick attack pumper truck because of its easy maneuverability.

“It holds 250 gallons of water but we're going to empty that to lighten the load in order to get more (diesel) mileage out of it,” said Orton.

He said the crew is planning to camp out during the clean-up trip and will be heading home Monday night.

Just hours before they left on Thursday, firefighters removed fire suppression equipment from the truck and loaded it up with hand tools, chain saws, scene lights and a generator.

Once people got wind of the trip, monetary donations started to flood in from local individuals and organizations.

Rosebud Mining Co., Ford City VFW and Ford Cliff Borough were among those who donated money to help, said Orton.

Millers Hoagies packed up enough hoagies for the whole trip, he said.

And when Adams made a quick visit to S&T Bank in Ford City on Thursday morning, he said each of the bank tellers donated some of their personal money for the trip.

“Our families are very supportive and we've had outstanding support from the community at large,” said Adams, as he checked the truck's supply of tools for the trip.

Adams said he's lived and worked in other places.

But, he said, “my heart's here in Armstrong County.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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