DNR assists with hurricane and fire recoveries

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — Representatives from the Indiana DNR divisions of Law Enforcement and Forestry recently deployed out of state to assist with the effects of Hurricane Florence and wildfires, respectively.A team of 16 Indiana conservation officers, in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, responded to an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request from North Carolina to assist with swift-water rescue and flood evacuations in the wake of Florence. The team of Indiana conservation officers that had been trained in river rescue and dive rescue and recovery was assembled within hours of the request. The team deployed to North Carolina on Sept. 11.“Instructions were to come prepared to be completely self-sufficient, as there were no guarantees regarding food, water or even shelter once they arrived,” said Major Jason Lee of DNR Law Enforcement.The team was originally staged in Raleigh, but as the hurricane hit, the team began a series of moves that eventually brought the officers to just outside Wilmington, the city where Florence made landfall.Work involved rescuing people and their pets from flooded homes and vehicles at all hours. The team specifically worked in Pitt, Onslow and Pender counties, in Belvoir, Jacksonville and Rocky Point.The Indiana conservation officers worked with a variety of state and federal agencies during their nine-day deployment. Included was the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which provided helicopter evacuation services to the residents and their pets as Indiana conservation officers rescued them from high water.“I am extremely proud of the job our officers did,” Lee said. “Deployments to other states are strictly voluntary, and officers know up front that they will be away from home and family for an undetermined amount of time.“The work periods are long and typically in extreme conditions.”Lee said the conservation officers were wet for nearly nine days, either from the rain and flooding or from the 90-degree heat.“The bottom line is that our officers saved lives through their sacrifices, and I cannot thank them or their families enough for what they accomplished,” Lee said.Indiana conservation officers answered one late-night call for help with a boat-based rescue. A woman called 911, saying water was rising in her home. Indiana conservation officers found her in a wheelchair, chest-deep in rising water, holding her small dog.“The woman was hypothermic and would have likely not made it much longer,” Lee said. “It turned out that it was her 93rd birthday, and being carried to safety by our officers was one of the most meaningful presents they had ever given.”Regarding wildfires, the DNR Division of Forestry sent 27 individuals and provided personnel on one 20-person interagency crew to assist with wildfires in 10 different states— Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Washington. Positions filled by Forestry personnel range from overhead management to on-the-ground firefighters.DNR Forestry has been mobilizing resources to all-hazard incidents such as wildfires since 1976.last_img

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