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Troopers sent to escort train in Wilma-damaged region..
Troopers sent to escort train in Wilma-damaged region.

On October 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma struck the west coast of Florida and made a path across the state, exiting on the east coast. Damage to homes and businesses was moderate, but power outages were extensive. Colonel Christopher A. Knight immediately detailed troopers to assist in Troops E-Miami-Dade, L-Lantana, and K-Turnpike. Over the course of a few days there were 225 out-of-area troopers deployed to assist hurricane victims.

Sergeant James McPherson directs traffic during heavy rain in one of the many intersections without traffic lights.
Sergeant James McPherson directs traffic during heavy rain
in one of the many intersections without traffic lights.

Troopers worked in St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. They provided security at gas stations since initially gas was extremely difficult to find; troopers also directed traffic at many intersections where there was no power or the lights were totally destroyed; in addition, troopers were assigned to work directly with local police officers in the cities of Ft. Lauderdale and Key West, patrolling for looters and other criminal activity; troopers also provided security at service plazas on the Florida Turnpike, and escorted trains through intersections without traffic control devices.

CSX engine CSX cars.
Note:   The yellow CSX hats worn by troopers in the above photo
were given to the troopers by Special Agent Patrick Hemphill from CSX Transportation

Last week, several troopers assisted the CSX Railroad Police by escorting a 1 mile long train of 150 cars from West Palm Beach to the Miami downtown CSX station. The train was carrying a high priority load of chemicals for the Ft. Lauderdale water treatment plant that was about to be closed, as well as food, water and other critical materials needed for the area. In all, fifteen law enforcement and railroad employees were needed to secure the train's safe delivery of supplies. As a precaution, the train had to travel at reduced speeds of 15 to 25 miles per hour, and because the train had to pass through fifty-seven different intersections with no operating gates as a result of power losses from Hurricane Wilma, it was particularly important that our troopers were on hand to ensure the public's safety. In the end, because of train engine problems and other unforeseen circumstances, our troopers spent twenty-one straight hours on this escort detail. The following members are greatly appreciated for their efforts in escorting the CSX train: Sergeant Steve Ashburn, Corporal Jason Clark, Trooper Leon Gill, Trooper Keith Slanker, Trooper Robert Duncan, and Trooper Daniel Caulk.

As always, our troopers rose to the occasion, fulfilling every mission asked of them in a professional manner. Compliments are pouring in regarding the assistance and the quality performance Floridians have come to expect from Florida Highway Patrol troopers!


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