A 17-member Vermont Urban Search & Rescue departed Colchester on September 11 for North Carolina, ahead of Hurricane Florence. 

Local 22 & Local 44’s Torrance Gaucher got an update on the team’s mission from program coordinator Mike Cannon via Skype on Monday.

“There is so much widespread flooding that, our egress routes to get back to our staging areas are pretty well cut off,” said Cannon.

Cannon said he and his fellow crew members are safe, but busy. Since becoming activated this past Saturday, his team has performed about two dozen rescue missions.

The big fear, he said, is the levees that protects the tiny community around Kelly, North Carolina.

“If that over tops, the flooding in this area will be catastrophic,” said Cannon. 

Cannon couldn’t compare Florence to Hurricane Irene because the damage across North Carolina was much worse. He described an ongoing rescue mission underway just down the road.

“Down this road, we were able to get a crew in with a couple of boats loaded into high water vehicles. From there, they will probably forage over some land once they put the boats in the water,” said Cannon. 

North Carolina Gov Roy Cooper  told the media today that the entire state has felt Florence’s wrath. 

“This remains a significant disaster, the next few days will be long ones, as the flooding continues,” he said.

Cannon said, with the rivers set to crest later this week, he isn’t sure when the team will  return to Vermont.

But, he added, “Folks back home need to know that there is a lot of damage here. They need to pray for the people that live down here.”

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