Firefighters recount flood relief mission

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Firefighters from Central Ohio dive into the water during a rescue mission after last month’s hurricane in North Carolina. Marysville Fire Chief Jay Riley and three firefighters from Marysville were among the rescuers providing relief after hurricane Florence.
(Photo submitted)
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Some Marysville fire personnel returned from helping hurricane relief efforts in North Carolina recently, and are hoping to use what they learned during that flooding up here.
“It makes you more appreciative of what you have,” Fire Chief Jay Riley said.
Riley and firefighters Mike Best, Adam Lybarger and Mike Montgomery went to help in North Carolina earlier this month. They were part of the 16-person Upper Scioto Water Rescue Task Force.
Some of those lessons included operating on low supplies and dealing with snakes.
During that time, Riley said he and the team had sparse resources. There were places, he said, where there was no access to electricity or municipal water.
He said it was a far cry from what they have access to in Union County.
“We pretty much have everything we need to rescue,” Riley said.
Something else that stuck in Riley’s mind was a bit more unexpected: snakes.
Riley said during the team’s time in North Carolina, there were many snakes in the water. While Riley said the reptiles didn’t impede their work, it was still strange.
“It was just unusual for us, because we don’t see that many snakes (in Union County),” Riley said.
On the day they left, Sept. 12, Riley said the group would be in North Carolina for up to 10 days, though they were only down there for eight.
Riley said the team made a big difference. They rescued people from cars and homes, and in some cases the water came up to the windows in certain houses.
Most of the team’s operations were in Johnston and Scotland counties. He said those areas received “catastrophic” flooding, including some deaths stemming from people stuck in vehicles.
Learning how to operate on such limited supply is something Riley intends on bringing to local teams. Before he left, Riley said none of the city’s water rescue personnel had ever experienced hurricane relief work.
Since they’ve returned, the team has held meetings with other Central Ohio agencies to discuss what was learned, and how to apply it locally. That way, local authorities can make as much of a difference in Union County as they did down south.
“We really feel like we made a big impact,” Riley said.



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