Hurricane Florence, a powerful storm that made landfall in the Carolinas, caused catastrophic damage in September, 2018. While dropping more than 35 inches of rain in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, it became the wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the area.
Early on, the hurricane brought horrific conditions to the Cape Verde islands, which resulted in landslides and flooding. Despite these and other horrific conditions, many rescuers and volunteers saved thousands of lives by risking their own. Here are some of Hurricane Florence’s heroes…
FEMA water rescue teams searched for stranded residents near New Bern, North Carolina. “The time to get out of evacuation areas, is rapidly coming to a close,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “This is a very dangerous storm. There’s going to be copious amounts of rainfall throughout the Carolinas and other states and we are going to see a lot of inland flooding.”
Volunteers from North Carolina helped rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes. The storm flooded neighborhoods all over North Carolina and has forced hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern.
Before the hurricane made landfall in Wilmington, pet owners were being advised to bring their beloved animals to emergency shelters to ensure they are safe. This photo shows Stephen Watson, a deputy for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s office, standing nearby as dogs and cats are brought to separate areas of the county emergency shelter held at Trask Middle School.
The school opened its doors to provide shelter to people and pets in need of help. Many public shelters in the area were considered “shelters of last resort” with very basic provisions for a safe and dry environment and limited meal capabilities. In this photo, Jameson McDermott, an employee with New Hanover County, holds a dog at the county emergency shelter at Trask Middle School.
At least 13 dogs were evacuated from Greenville, South Carolina due to the hurricane. In this photo, Veterinarian technician Christina Tate, holds a dog named Jackson as Veterinarian Care Administrator Christy Ha cleans the dog’s ears at McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga.
Pet School Bus
Tony Alsup, 51, is a Tennessee trucker who prepared to return to South Carolina to rescue pets from the storm with his school bus. Alsup wound up transporting 64 dogs and cats to Alabama, all while his phone played the ringtone, “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men.
Bringing People Together
Hurricane Florence brought together students in the ClemsonLIFE and Coastal Carolina University LIFE programs. The ClemsonLIFE Program is designed for students with intellectual disabilities who desire a post-secondary experience on a college campus. Coastal Carolina University LIFE program is a secondary education and transition program for young adults who have mild to moderate intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
This photo shows a man named Robert Simmons Jr. with his kitten “Survivor” perched on his shoulder after they evacuated their home. The duo was rescued from the floodwaters after Hurricane Florence dumped many inches of rain in the area overnight. Robert and Survivor were two of the many people and pets that were evacuated.
It has been up to rescue personnel from the police and fire departments to alert the residents of the Carolinas of the dangers of the hurricane. In this photo, an officer from Wrightsville Beach plays a message on a loudspeaker to remind residents of the mandatory evacuation.
In this photo, Command Sgt. Maj. Sid Baker and 1st Sgt. Christopher Jones of the North Carolina National Guard speaks to residents who declined to evacuate from a flooded neighborhood as rain from tropical storm Florence continued to fall. Ensuring the safety of the residents of the community was their top priority.
Command Sgt. Maj. Sid Baker of the North Carolina National Guard spoke with the driver of a military truck. The man driving the truck was carrying evacuees from a flooded neighborhood as rain from the tropical storm continued to fall. The evacuees were unable to get to safety any other way.
In this picture, bystanders, standing in waist-high water, help a stranded motorist. The driver got stuck after floodwater engulfed his car along Route 17 near Holly Ridge, North Carolina. By that point, Hurricane Florence had downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still caused heavy flooding.
This road, covering U.S. Highway 70, east of Kinston, was closed to the public since it was too dangerous to navigate. However, a convoy of utility trucks was permitted to enter the area as they were heading east to assist with damage caused by the storm.
Members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 4 from Oakland, California, search a flooded neighborhood for evacuees during the hurricane. Flooding from the heavy rain forced hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the communities around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.
To make sure people had evacuated their homes, rescue teams were dispersed to help. In this photo, rescue team members from the North Carolina National Guard 1/120th battalion went door-to-door to evacuate residents in an apartment complex threatened by rising floodwaters.
Helping The Elderly
Here, a rescue team from a National Guard battalion evacuates an elderly woman from her apartment as the rising floodwaters threaten her home in New Bern, North Carolina. One of the rescuers even carried the woman’s bag as he assisted her away from the apartment.
Volunteers filled sandbags to reinforce a low-lying area as Hurricane Florence approaches Lumberton, North Carolina. Many volunteers helped, including Rivers Malcolm and Ben Miller, who are shown bumping fists while filling sandbags.
Civilian Crisis Response Team
Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helped rescue three children from their flooded home in James City, North Carolina. The team is an organized group of volunteers who have helped countless people involved in automobile accidents and medical emergencies. Many lives have been saved because of these selfless people.
One of the more unfortunate results of the hurricane was when a mother and infant were killed inside their home after a large tree fell. Here, rescue personnel removed a man from the same home, who did survive the incident.
After the rescuers in the previous photo removed the injured man from the home where the tree fell, they knelt to pray. They were attempting to remove a giant tree that toppled onto the house and killed two people. In total, the hurricane and flood waters resulted in about two-dozen casualties.