Dave McIntyre says he’ll never forget Michigan’s mission in North Carolina.
He’s one of 20 who volunteered to head into the path of Hurricane Florence just as thousands were fleeing.
McIntyre is a part the Michigan Task Force 1, a coalition of over a hundred firefighters and support personnel ready to spring into action during natural disasters.
When the call came requesting help, just before the hurricane made landfall, the group took four boats and got on the road immediately.
The team consisted of firefighters from 11 different fire departments including Sterling Heights, Eastpointe, Rochester, and Ferndale.
In their six-day deployment, the team faced dangerous conditions, navigating through some areas flooded up to 9 feet deep.
The specially trained firefighters used dry suits, boots, and gloves to protect themselves from contaminants in the flooded water.
But the rescues, he says, made it worth whatever sacrifice the mission entailed. On one call, the group went to help a trapped motorist. It turned into a rescue of 14 residents and 20 dogs.
In total, they helped 43 people and 34 pets to safety.
McIntyre says it was the most gratifying thing he's ever done in his 30-year career of public safety.
However, he’s still concerned about the people he left behind in North Carolina that lost everything, now struggling to rebuild.
If you’d like to help, the Red Cross still has efforts underway (www.redcross.org).