Ft. Bragg firefighters recall water rescues one year after Florence

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Tomorrow marks one year since Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas.

There were more than 5,000 water rescues, including some in Spring Lake. 

We spoke with some of the Fort Bragg firefighters who assisted with the rescues.

They train for water rescues and recovery missions at least once a month. 

We spent the day with them during one of the recovery training operations at Mott Lake.

“Recover anything from vehicles, to people, to weapons, evidence, anything that needs to be recovered from underwater,” Lt. Mark Derrico said. 

Derrico and fellow firefighter Matthew Davenport both helped with water rescues during Florence, and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. 

“Trying to get somewhere is the hardest part,” Davenport said. 

“You’re just trying to navigate, there are vehicles you can’t see under the water, you’re trying to navigate street signs, you can’t necessarily see,” Derrico said. “Of course it’s dark, there’s no power.”

They say an important part of water rescues is getting people calm. 

“You can talk to them easier, and get them to help you out and help themselves out,” Davenport said. 

“We are used to being in an emergency situation, they’re not,” Derrico said. “Once they realize that everything’s OK and that we are floating, it’s usually pretty easy from there.” 

After every water rescue and recovery, the firefighters learn and grow as a team, becoming more prepared for whenever the next natural disaster hits.

“Hopefully it doesn’t, but if it does we are much better prepared,” Derrico said. 

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