A northwest suburban fire department is working overtime because 16 of its firefighters are stranded in Cabo San Lucas.
Those 16 firefighters make up nearly 20-percent of the Hoffman Estates fire department. On Wednesday night, their families are appealing for help to get them home.
“Hurricane Odile devastated that area of Mexico. Reports of rampant looting in storm-ravaged Los Cabos have Georgia Demet-Mangiameli sick with worry.
“These are firemen that save lives for a living, and now they’re turning to us to help them get out of harm’s way,” said Demet-Mangiameli.
Her two sons, the youngest a Hoffman Estates firefighter, are stranded in Cabo San Lucas and were there to attend what was supposed to be a wedding in paradise or their father, fire Lieutenant Tom Mangiameli.
Between the groom, wedding party and guests, a total of 16 Hoffman Estates firefighters are now stranded – about one-sixth of the department. Their colleagues are now working extended hours.
“We’re fully-staffed every day. We’re going to check our manpower and make sure everyone’s still got a lot of energy left and working hard, and we’re still protecting our area,” said Chief Jeff Jorian, Hoffman Estates Fire Dept.
Three days after Hurricane Odile left Cabo’s airport in shambles, flights remain grounded, and getting there is an ordeal as debris litters roads.
“The airport is, from what I’m told, an hour away. And they’re saying that they want to pack it up in the morning and walk to the airport, and personally I don’t think that’s a good idea because looters can get them at that point,” said Demet-Mangiameli.
Those looters overwhelmed police, as store owners used makeshift weapons to protect their livelihoods.
With no power, communication has been scarce.
“You have guys that for a living save lives, and the desperation that I heard in their voices today, because I did speak to one of the firemen, you need to get us out of here,” said Demet-Mangiameli.
On Wednesday night, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin issued a statement saying he’s been in contact with the State Department. The fire chief here says Sen. Kirk and the governor have also been notified and are working on a plan.