CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — From the devastation to the people they rescue, Coast Guard members in Clearwater are getting a first-hand look at what people are dealing with in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
Coast Guard members from Air Station Clearwater rescued 15 people and several pets on Thursday.
They flew for more than eight hours in windy conditions, stepping knee-deep through muddy water.
“I’m just trying to smile and be happy and show them some light at the end of their dark day,” lifeguard Zach Loesch said. “A lot of them are desperate and need help and are desperate. Everything they know is gone and if they leave with us it may be the last time they see their house.”
Crew members say some people had to use flashlights to attract their attention.
“I took a flashlight to flash them back so they know I see you,” said aviation maintenance technician Savanna Brewer. “We were able to give some hope to the people who came to us for help.”
Coast Guard members sometimes say it got emotional.
“We picked up a family and I remember the last one was a little girl and she reminded me of my daughter and I thought the hurricane could have come through that area and I could have pulled her up,” said aviation maintenance technician Russell strand .
Coast Guard members know that some of these families may never see their homes again, and so they are trying to offer hope.
“All we could tell them is that you’re fine, we don’t know what else is going on, but you’re fine and we’re taking you to a safe place,” Strang said.
https://www.wfla.com/news/pinellas-county/clearwater-coast-guard-first-responders-rescue-people-following-hurricane-ian/ Clearwater Coast Guard first responders rescue people after Hurricane Ian