HENDERSON, Ky. — On Nov. 17, an EF3 tornado struck Corydon causing widespread damage and knocking out electricity to the community, which in turn shut down the water treatment plant.
A dire situation, it could have been even worse without a proactive move made by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department.
For several years, the agency has been obtaining pieces of surplus military equipment. One of those is a generator that was used by Corydon’s water treatment plant to keep it up and running in the aftermath of the tornado.
“Their water treatment plant was down due to lack of power,” said Henderson County Sheriff Ed Brady. “We took our big generator out there, plugged it in and they were able to run their water treatment plant because we had a generator available ... that we got through the military.”
Through the military surplus program, Brady said the sheriff’s office has obtained roughly $1 million in equipment for the county, including Humvees, a bucket truck and a mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle known as an MRAP.
Brady said the department found the equipment through a designated site for military surplus equipment.
“You have to sign up and be approved,” he said. “The state police are the ones who coordinate this in Kentucky. You see it on the computer, you think it’s a piece of equipment you can use and you put in for it, you request it. You have to be approved by the state first.”
After getting state approval, the request is sent to the federal government by way of the Law Enforcement Support Office in Battle Creek, Michigan. This office also has to approve the request. Police agencies and foreign militaries get priority. If the equipment isn’t placed with these groups, then it’s destroyed.
“(Most) of this equipment is not for daily use ... this is all for rescue-type situations, flooding situations, tornado situations and Henderson County or any county in Kentucky couldn’t afford to buy this type of equipment,” Brady said. “You have to buy the essentials. So I feel like we’ve been able, through the government surplus program, to obtain equipment to serve people in emergencies that normally we couldn’t afford or have available to us.”
“The thing that generates the most interest is the MRAP,” he said. “We consider it a rescue vehicle. If we had a deputy shot in the middle of a field and an active shooter was still there and we couldn’t get to them with any other piece of equipment, we could get to them with that ... or get to a civilian” in need.
“Just on the news this morning was that shooting in Houston that killed seven people ... if you notice the video from the helicopter ... the guy was in his car with a gun and (law enforcement) pulled two military vehicles up, blocked him in and they had him contained. We see that as something we never want to use, but if we ever do use it, it’s going to get us the most benefit as far as rescue and life saving.”
“We’ve been able to obtain seven or eight Humvees that deputies take to their homes. In bad weather and flooding conditions ... we can get into backwater with those,” he said. “We’ve given a diesel generator to every volunteer fire department in the county so if the power goes off in a storm, every volunteer fire department will have power. We consider those to be police substations if we need them ... because our deputies and state troopers would likely operate out of them.”
“We’ve tried to get things that we think the people of Henderson County can use and so far we’ve gotten well over $1 million in equipment” that the county couldn’t otherwise afford.
There isn’t a price tag for the different equipment, he said. The only cost of the equipment comes when it has to be transported to Henderson County. And of course maintaining it, Brady said.
Deputies are trained to operate the items and the equipment is tested and maintained weekly, he said.
“We’ve offered this equipment (to surrounding communities) and anyone of these items they need, we’d get it to them as quick as we could.”
Brady said sometimes the trucks and equipment can be used in practical situations.
“The detention center has a large number of aerial cameras outside and some of those were needing to be readjusted and maintained,” he said.
In the past, “They’d have to rent a bucket truck at a cost of $600 to $1,000 a day. They were able to use this bucket truck and saved the county roughly $1,500 on truck rental. Another thing we use it for is our accident reconstruction. One advantage with the bucket truck:You can get above the scene and shoot down on it and you can see where debris has been thrown ... a more clear picture.”
“I’m so proud that we had that generator when Corydon’s water treatment plant went down. They would’ve been sitting there with no water,” Brady said. “I also think it’s critical for the volunteer departments” to have generators.
“Every piece of this equipment has been purchased by the people of Henderson County” as taxpayers of the federal government, he said.
“They paid for it, they had it made, they had it shipped all around the world and when it came back to the military, we felt like there were some pieces of equipment that we could use,” Brady said.
“And since the people of Henderson County had already paid for it, we thought it was a wise thing to do for the people (here) to get some benefit out of it.”