Oklahomans Return Home After Helping In Hurricane Harvey

Monday, September 4th 2017, 5:51 pm
By: News On 6

First responders from across Oklahoma are back home with their families after spending a week in Texas helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

Terry Sivadon, a program manager with Oklahoma Task Force One, said watching news coverage of the hurricane was a far cry from being there in person.

He said video just doesn't do the natural disaster justice.

"Once you get there and you're just looking at people's houses and their stuff just under six, 10 feet of water," Sivadon said. "...they lost everything."

9/3/2017 Related Story: Humane Society Of Tulsa Transports 120 Pets Rescued From Harvey

Sivadon led the team to Houston last week. 

"A lot of driving, a lot of patience waiting," Sivadon said.

The crew was made up of 23 men and women from counties across the state. 

They set up camp in a Houston parking lot, maneuvering their equipment each day through dangerous flood waters. 

"Just trying to make our way downtown to the affected area, we turned around three or four times, running into flood water," Sivadon said.

These Oklahoma heroes worked 12-hour shifts back to back for a week.

"A lot of people were still in their house or in their attics and hadn't been rescued yet," Sivadon said.

They pulled survivors from their homes while waters continued to rise.

"We told them that the water is not going away anytime soon, it would probably be a good idea to come with us and a lot of them did," Sivadon said. "We checked 4,200 homes, 15 square miles in a 10-hour period."

Each evening before bed, they cleaned their boats and gear to get ready for a new day of rescues.

"It's probably a lot of the firemen in us, we just want to help, we have that heart to where people we see in need, we just want to fix it," Sivadon said.

The task force is safe at home now with their families and friends but the memory of Houston is fresh in their minds.

"We done a great job, we showed Texas that Oklahoma, knows how to do it," Sivadon said.

The crew members got home Sunday and some of them turned right around to work the raft race Monday.