In the wake of a powerful, fast-moving hurricane, thousands of families across the Florida Panhandle and beyond are picking up the pieces.
“This storm here is reminiscent of Katrina to us,” said Todd Terrell, the group’s founder.
A total of 72 volunteers had entered Panama City, Florida, as of Thursday with hundreds more awaiting a clear path to get to the storm-ravaged areas, he said.
“We’ve actually been rescuing and since yesterday around 5:30 or so, we haven’t stopped,” he said in a Fox News Channel interview Thursday morning. “We went all night. We pulled people from rubble and stuff.”
He called the coastal city a “disaster zone,” noting that it has been difficult to reach the people and communities in the most immediate need.
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“We’re trying to get some supplies in, just basic stuff, but it’s a disaster,” Terrell said.
Despite the obstacles, he said volunteers have been responding to calls — often in the form of social media messages — from survivors and their loved ones.
“One of them was a lady who was in her 80s, actually the house had collapsed on her and she was in the corner and she was all cut up and bloodied up,” Terrell said. “And the family had called us. They were panicked because they were on the phone with her when the tree fell and they lost contact with her.”
The volunteers who responded had to use a chainsaw to clear the path to the woman’s address, but ultimately found her.
“Ten of my guys actually cut the rubble away from her and rescued her,” Terrell said, describing her as “minutes away from dying” when the rescue took place.
“On our mobile command, we have doctors and nurses always with us in a disaster and they were able to stabilize her,” he added.
The Louisiana Cajun Navy and other organizations on the ground continue to provide disaster relief as effectively as possible. Terrell described the literal and figurative roadblocks his volunteers face in getting to all corners of the affected area.
“We’re down to 100 gallons of fuel,” he said. “And that’s a big problem that we’re having.”
As for the residents of Panama City, Terrell made another comparison to Katrina in describing their plight.
“People have nothing,” he said, adding that most of the people his group has helped did not even have dry clothes.
“Basic necessities: food, water and shelter,” he said. “That’s what everybody needs now.”
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