Oklahoma Swift Water Rescue Crews Help Harvey Victims

Thursday, August 31st 2017, 3:22 pm
By: Craig Day

The water is receding in Houston, but dozens of search and rescue teams from agencies across Oklahoma are still rescuing stranded people. We rode along with rescue teams from Oklahoma, who are evacuating people from their homes after Hurricane Harvey.

It was nonstop, and also heartbreaking.

The first call for this swift water rescue team from Oklahoma was to rescue a woman and her friend from an apartment surrounded by water. They constantly look for hazards as the navigate their way around abandoned cars and other hazards.
Where it's shallow, they walk - pulling their boats, while trying to find addresses in an unfamiliar city. They find Robin Abernathy, who hasn't been outside since Hurricane Harvey hit.

"Where do you want me to go?" she asked. 
"Step up here," a rescuer said.

They unload her belongings, her pets Mia and Mollie, and Abernathy finally can unload a week of built up anxiety.
"We want to thank the rescue people from Oklahoma for giving us a chance to get out safe and sound," said Robin Abernathy, flood victim.

The team is made up of highly trained swift water rescue crews from GRDA, Mayes County emergency management, and firefighters from Tahlequah, Locust Grove, Adair and Pryor.

8/30/2017 Related Story: Houston: Rescue Efforts Suspended Due To Darkness

To Abernathy, they are lifesavers.

"My first time to be in a boat, and I am being rescued; I'm blessed," she said.

While on their way to safety, they pass people saving what they can in anything they can find. Crews are rescuing families, including babies.

People worried about friends and family wait as people, some even carried by rescue personnel, are brought up a muddy path to safety.

"I told the captain we're trying to get my mother's heart and glaucoma medicine that she'd forgotten, and two cats.  He said 'I won't leave cats behind.  I can't leave your cats there.  I will go back in,'" said flood victim Claire Gonzales.
While some still choose to stay,  others have had it with Harvey, and are desperate to get somewhere dry, somewhere safe.
"We are so blessed. Thank God for these guys, for everyone," Robin Abernathy said.