North Carolina search and rescue teams deployed in several areas across the Carolinas over-the-weekend to search for people whose lives are at risk due to dangerous flooding as rainfall totals, normally associated with major hurricanes, plague portions of eastern North Carolina and nearly all South Carolina.
“These situations are exactly what our crews train for and why continual training for these search and rescue teams is so vital,” said Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “I am grateful that we have had these very experienced teams on standby and ready to respond to help the many individuals in need.”
As a Raleigh-based search and rescue crew made their way to Hyde County Sunday to assist local officials with searches, they encountered near Swan Quarter a car that had been swept off the road and was submerged in eight to ten feet of water. The quick-thinking team sprang into action and pulled the vehicle’s two passengers from the sinking car.
It was just one of several rescue missions that the teams have completed in the past two days. Trained search and rescue crews, along with North Carolina National Guard soldiers who underwent swift water rescue and disaster response just-in-time training over the weekend, have been pressed into service in both Carolinas with life-saving results. In each case, local law enforcement, Emergency Medical Service personnel and NC National Guard soldiers so far have partnered to save 14 people.
- In Hobucken, six people were evacuated from a residence as flood waters continued rising.
- In Bayboro, crews rescued a trapped motorist from the top of his car after his vehicle hydroplaned into a 5-foot canal.
- In Merritt, crews rescued a law enforcement officer whose vehicle became trapped by rising floodwaters as he was en route to check on a subject.
- In Lowland, crews rescued six people from the flood waters.
“I’m incredibly proud of all of our rescue units who must act quickly and decisively in the most dangerous situations,” Perry said. “Please be cautious whenever you travel. If you’re ever trapped by flood waters, call 911 immediately. And remember to avoid flooded roads; ‘turn around, don’t drown.’”
Currently, four search and rescue teams are deployed to the eastern part of North Carolina. These teams of highly-trained, fast-acting individuals are vital to emergency response. Many are firefighters and other first responders who undergo special training for water rescues.
In addition, three North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Teams (NC HART) were sent Sunday to aid South Carolina as the state continues to respond to unprecedented deadly flooding. The state is also sending a Rotary Wing package and a Command and Control unit to help the recovery effort.
“Between our two states, 11 people have already died during this storm in the Carolinas,” said Perry. “We don’t want to lose any more lives. Our search and rescue teams are essential to that effort.”
Johnston County EMS dispatched an ambulance to the Elizabethtown National Guard Armory on Saturday night to be on standby to assist emergency workers in southeastern NC. The crew returned to Johnston County Monday night.
According to Billy Langston, Assistant Chief with Johnston County EMS, Johnston County is part of a regional “Ambulance Strike Team” that deploys ambulances and paramedics to hard hit areas following storms and major incidents. Johnston County was among 7 ambulance crews from 6 local counties that responded to Bladen County to standby.