SPRING LAKE, N.C. — Three firefighters from Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services (FBFES) assisted several off-post organizations at the Little River flood at the corner of North Bragg Boulevard and West Manchester Road.
The flood was the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which began making its way through the Carolinas Sept. 13. Mark Derrico, FBFES master firefighter, said his team was one of the two teams of three emergency personnel from Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services sent off the installation to help since Sept. 15.
“We started with mandatory evacuations,” Derrico said.
Since then, their efforts have shifted to helping people who stayed behind and might be stuck in limited-access areas. Although the teams are specifically assigned to Fort Bragg, he said they participate in off-post help whenever they are called.
On Tuesday morning, while Derrico and his team were out assisting other teams with assessing flood damage, they heard a person calling out for help in the waters.
“We had one person out of this area this morning,” he said. The night before, Derrico said FBFES helped rescue another person near Delphic Road in Spring Lake.
On Monday, the Bragg’s fire departments helped rescue people from “The Heritage at Fort Bragg” apartment complex off Highway 211 in Spring Lake. FBFES have saved 16 victims since Hurricane Florence made landfall, according to William McCammitt, deputy fire chief on Fort Bragg.
Some of the other teams FBFES worked with include the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, North Carolina National Guard and New York Urban Search and Rescue Response Team (US&R) Task Force 1.
Nine Guardsmen from the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, North Carolina Army National Guard were at the Little River with two light medium tactical vehicles to support US&R Task Force 1.
They worked together to replace the missing depth marker used to measure the crest of the flood, which is expected to crest higher than Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“We are going into the water with them as they are called out,” said 2nd Lt. Michael McCann, 230th Bde. Spt. Bn. officer-in-charge. “They have boats on the back of our LMTV. We take them into the water as far as we can, then they take their boats out and we’ll load up anybody who needs rescuing and bring them back.”
The National Guard have been out near the Little River since Monday evening but began their hurricane relief mission Sept. 14 with logistical operations with evacuation shelters in the vicinity by providing cots, water, blankets and Meals, Ready-to-Eat, said McCann.
Capt. Mike Smithwick, US&R Task Force 1 rescue team manager, said his team of 84 people arrived Sept. 11 from New York with the mission to rescue and evacuate hurricane victims.