Firefighters rescue more than 70 people and 30 horses in Texas

The Greene County firefighters who went to Texas for two days last week to assist with rescue operations in flooding after Hurricane Harvey returned tired by satisfied with their work.

Jack Williams, sheriff and Jefferson fire chief, along with Mike Wahl and Terry Becker of the Jefferson department, Nate Byerly and Garrett Riedesel of the Churdan department, and James Doran and Joe Doran of the Paton department, left Thursday afternoon with three boats and other gear.

By the time they arrived in Houston the water was already receding, so they kept driving to find a place they were needed. They ended up in Port Arthur, on the Louisiana border.

Their work was coordinated largely by local departments, not a larger state or federal agency.

Williams said he was impressed by the skills of the Louisiana rescuers and their use of a SmartPhone app to locate people. Most of those stranded in flood waters still had use of cell phones, making the job easier than it might have been.

The Greene County crews rescued between 70 and 80 people, according to Williams. They had as many as 12 people in a boat at a time.

Rescuing horses was more challenging than rescuing people, he said. They rescued 30 horses that were chest high in water. Their job was to let them out of a barn so the horses could make their own way to higher ground.

The firefighters had taken their own water but ate mostly snack food, as other food was hard to find. Those who slept used cots in their equipment trailer. For some, though, it was 48 hours straight of physical labor with 17-hour drives before and after.

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