Vermont’s Swift Water Rescue Team has returned home after spending nine days in North Carolina helping residents recover from Hurricane Florence.
“We’re spent, we’re spent,” said team manager Aaron Collette. “We were going on adrenaline and caffeine the first five or six days because there was no break. We would return at 2:30 in the morning and then get another call at 4:30.”
Collette was in Kelly, North Carolina, where conditions were so rough that the fire station team members were based at required emergency repairs.
“It tore the gable end of their fire house open,” Collette said. “At one point there we ended up having to try and get some plywood to secure the firehouse. It was four days of constant rain.”
Right after the storm, Collette and his crew worked clearing roads of debris. When flood waters started rising, they went door-to-door warning residents of the dangerous conditions.
And the crew responded to emergencies, rescuing motorists trapped in flood water.
“People had tried to cross the water in their vehicles,” Collette said. “We got in there and we found 500 yards of flood water rushing across the road with people stranded out in the middle of that.”
After the long journey, Collette said it’s great to be home.
“It’s a tough situation for us to be away from our families,” Collette said. “But when you get to see the devastation and the commitment of the residents that actually live in these communities that are affected, a couple of days away when you can come home to a safe and loving family in Vermont, that’s what matters.”