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Deputies patrol waterways in freezing temperatures
By Megan Dillard
It was remarkably cold at the Port of Beaumont by Southeast Texas standards with temperatures in the 20s and sleet falling from the sky.
And while first responders are out patrolling our roads, there's one group that keeps an eye on our waterways, no matter how cold it gets.
"This is a routine day for us."
Jefferson County deputies on routine patrol along the Neches River.
"We have all this infrastructure up and down our waterways that we patrol."
When asked if it makes it harder on days like this with the weather to do this job, the response was: "Very much so. It's a little miserable out here today."
Deputy Freddie Bouillion and others in the Sheriff's Office Marine Division spend hours each day on these commercial patrol boats.
"These boats are all aluminum. Even though we have a heater and closed in area like this, the floor still stays cold for you."
While it's cold in the boat, it's unbearable on the outside.
"The water temperature is 49 degrees. And typically in 49 degrees, a normal person won't last 5 minutes if he hits the water."
It's a sobering thought that requires the watchful eyes of these men on duty.
"... so if there's someone out here fishing, or one of these boats has some type of collision and somebody goes overboard, we need to respond as quickly as we can."
A response made possible through coast guard and boater safety training and a responsibility that stretches 100 square miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the saltwater barrier.
Waterways that need protecting no matter what type of weather finds its way to Southeast Texas.