» Help­ing: Makeshift flotilla saves hun­dreds. Also, how to help the storm re­cov­ery,

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - Jack Healy and Sheri Fink ©2018 The New York Times

As the

WASH­ING­TON, N.C. — flat-bot­tomed fish­ing boat crept into a swirling river that had once been Sum­mer Haven Lane, Tray Till­man scanned the brown flood­wa­ters and half-sub­merged houses in search of some

body to save.

“To­day it’s been women

and kids,” Till­man said. Till­man, 26, a con­struc­tion fore­man, was part of a makeshift res­cue flotilla

that has plucked hun­dreds of stranded peo­ple from at­tics, sec­ond-floor bed­rooms, church vestibules and crum­bling decks as re­lent­less, record-set­ting rains from Trop­i­cal Storm Flor

ence flood rivers across the Caroli­nas and send tor­rents of wa­ter through down­towns miles away from the coast.

In­land flood­ing is per­haps the big­gest con­tin­u­ing dan­ger as Florence trudges through the Caroli­nas, and an im­pro­vised net­work of vol­un­teers, some help­ing from as far away as Africa, has sprung up to lo­cate and res­cue peo­ple who did not evac­u­ate.

Har­nett County, North Car

olina, which is in the path of a river that was ex­pected to crest overnight at 17 feet above flood stage, was one of many ju­ris­dic­tions that or­dered new evac­u­a­tions.

“They’re used to flood­ing, but noth­ing like this,” said Dan DiRenzo, who steered the boats with New Jer­sey Task Force One Ur­ban Search and Res­cue, one of the teams de­ployed by the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age

ment Agency to North Carolina, South Carolina and Vir­ginia.

FEMA said it had more than 1,000 work­ers in the Caroli­nas, and the Coast Guard said it had ships and search-and-res­cue crews at

the ready. Ten­nessee sent fire­fight­ers and swift-wa­ter res­cue spe­cial­ists, and Mary­land said it would send its

he­li­copter aquatic res­cue team, in­clud­ing two Black Hawk he­li­copters. A team of spe­cial­ists in ur­ban searc­hand-res­cue and med­i­cal care left with boats to North Car

olina from New York City, and an­other team left from Ne­vada.

There are scores of highly trained res­cuers de­ployed by FEMA. There are hun­dreds of lo­cal sher­iff’s deputies

and fire­fight­ers trundling through neigh­bor­hoods in their tallest trucks. There are vol­un­teers with un­of­fi­cial res­cue groups such as

the Ca­jun Navy, and mon­i­tors as far away as Nige­ria search­ing for calls for help and post­ing peo­ple’s lo­ca­tions on crowd­sourced res

cue data­bases.

Then there is Till­man: a guy with a boat.

A for­mer soldier, he was just a lo­cal res­i­dent who wanted to help. On Fri­day, he drove around Wash­ing­ton, North Carolina, with a metal sk­iff lashed to the top of his mini­van, re­spond­ing to pleas posted on­line for

help. When a res­cue part­ner who had been work­ing with him got tired, Till­man went out alone. When he broke his out­board pro­pel­ler on a piece of wood, he hunted down a re­place­ment. On Fri­day alone, more

than 385 peo­ple were res­cued from the city of New Bern, about 40 miles to the south. Dozens more were res­cued from homes in Wash­ing­ton, up and down the Pam­lico River.

Through­out the storm, stranded res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies have been post­ing calls for help on Face­book and Twit­ter and crowd­sourced res­cue sites.

Would-be res­cuers in the Caroli­nas used the walkie-talkie app Zello to re­quest in­for­ma­tion on street con­di­tions and the lo­ca­tions of peo­ple need­ing help. Vol­un­teers out­side the dis­as­ter zone scanned the in­ter­net to pro­vide an­swers for them, broad­cast­ing weather and traf­fic re­ports and even hy­per­local in­for­ma­tion.


Tray Till­man (right) and Parker Wil­liams, a vol­un­teer with the Bun­yan Fire De­part­ment, glide through flood­wa­ters as they search for peo­ple in need amid flood­ing Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton, N.C.

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