RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A team of firefighters from the Triangle is credited with rescuing two elderly brothers during Hurricane Isaias.
The heroes are part of the North Carolina Search and Rescue Task Force 8. The team is comprised of firefighters from Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, as well as members from Wake EMS.
“We’re the task force that goes in and assists municipalities that have been affected,” said Capt. Kevin Ellsworth, a member of the Raleigh Fire Department and task force leader of Task Force 8.
Ellsworth and the team were dispatched after an EF-3 tornado barreled through a mobile home park near Windsor in Bertie County.
“I got the call at 3 a.m.” he said. “As we got there, the storm was still in the area; high winds, heavy rain, visibility was low.”
Ellsworth said they had two options when they got to the mobile home park.
“Command wanted us to take a right and go to the trailer park,” he explained. “But, with the amount of trees that were on that right-hand corner, it was easier to search to the left-hand side. So something drew us to the left.”
They trusted their instincts and took a left. Fighting against the wind and rain, Ellsworth said they used chainsaws to cut through downed trees and carve a path through.
“As we made our way down that road, that’s where we came upon a trailer that was flipped over numerous times and leaning against a big tree that was down there,” Ellsworth said of the damage caused by the tornado. “As we approached, we did hear people yelling, so we knew somebody was in there.”
The team followed those cries for help, climbed onto the mobile home, and rescued two brothers in their 80s.
“If we hadn’t taken that left turn instead of taking a right and bringing us to the trailer park, there’s no telling how long they would have been there because those roads were impassable,” he said. “So, they could have been out there for hours and hours and nobody would have found them. So it was a blessing that we turned left and went that direction.”
Ellsworth said finding survivors in the devastation was shining moment in the storm.
“So often we go to calls where it’s too late and there’s nothing that we can do, but just kind of help pick up the pieces after the situation,” he explained. “But, since these individuals were live victims, it was a relief and a boost for the team.”
Ellsworth said the brothers they saved were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
He said Isaias was their first call this hurricane season.
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