Local firefighters return from Hurricane Matthew rescue missions - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Local firefighters return from Hurricane Matthew rescue missions

Flooding in Lumberton, NC after Hurricane Matthew. (Source: Chris Caimi) Flooding in Lumberton, NC after Hurricane Matthew. (Source: Chris Caimi)
Firefighters Lt. Chris Caimi and Lt. Brian Harting in North Carolina. (Source: Brian Harting) Firefighters Lt. Chris Caimi and Lt. Brian Harting in North Carolina. (Source: Brian Harting)
Rescue crews at work in North Carolina. (Source: Chris Caimi) Rescue crews at work in North Carolina. (Source: Chris Caimi)
EUCLID, OH (WOIO) -

Firefighters from right here in Northeast Ohio spent the last week in North Carolina rescuing flood victims with Ohio Task Force 1.

So far 24 people have died in North Carolina and 80 percent of some towns are under water. Hundreds of people are now living in shelters and people are still evacuating.

Local firefighters were working day and night to rescue people from their homes in the state. At one point, they say 2,000 people were stranded in Lumberton.

Hurricane Matthew's destruction really put their skills to the test. Lt. Chris Caimi with Euclid Fire Department and Lt. Brian Harting with Bedford Fire Department will never forget what they saw in North Carolina.

“Houses flooded, entire streets flooded, highways flooded, bridges washed out. It was total devastation of that community,” Harting said.

The community in Lumberton was overwhelmed as water rushed through neighborhoods and across farm land. Caimi helped rescue an elderly man who was blind.

"We got in the house and he was sitting on his bed with his feet up in the air and he would not have been able to get out of the house on his own,” he said.

They rescued dozens of people and even some cattle.

“It's very sad. A lot of people's homes were destroyed. I don't know what these homes do after, but there's water up to the couches,” Caimi said.

Crews hopped into boats and navigated high current, bumping into fire hydrants, trees and cars along the way. Harting says all of their training was put into action.

“You're just doing your best to keep the boat afloat and get to where you have to be for your mission, complete it and get back safely,” he said.

It was a true test of teamwork that saved lives.

“To be a part of that and to bring people out that would've otherwise not made it out on their own, was a very fulfilling day for us and the team,” Harting said.

Ohio Task Force 1 is based in Dayton and made up of emergency crews from across the state. They're trained in urban search and rescue and often mobilized by the federal government. Over 80 people made the trip down south to help in North Carolina.

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