Nebraska Task Force One has helped more than 1,200 Houston area residents reach safety in wake of the massive flooding spawned by Hurricane Harvey.
Lincoln Fire Battalion Chief Brad Thavenet leads the task force. He says a constant fear for rescue crews is more rain.
“If any more water comes to Houston this event could repeat itself all over again,” Thavenet tells reporters during a conference call. “Reservoirs and retention ponds are so full that there’s nowhere for the water to go but back into neighborhoods.”
Thavenet says it is hard for most to fathom the extent of the flooding which stretches along 282 miles of coast line and extends 75 miles inland.
Members of Nebraska Task Force One have boated down Interstate 10 in Houston, which at present is eight to 10 feet under water.
“A lot of it is just by, try to go down to that tree down there and go left and it’s a red building over there or something,” Thavenet says. “Without having any GPS coordinates that they can go by or lack of any identifiable markers, like street signs, building signs, those types of things, it really is kind of a shot in the dark.”
Helicopters circling the city often direct rescue crews to stranded residents. At times, crew members simply listen for cries for help.
In addition to helping get more than 1,200 people to safety, Nebraska Task Force One has rescued 90 companion animals.
Thavenet says members of the task force understand the work is grueling, but they also understand the real importance of their work.
“I mean, they’re doing great work, saving lives, truly saving lives that would have passed away had they not been there. So their spirits are up.”