CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Firefighters Michael Brewer and Stephen Pritchard have been with the Charlotte Fire Department for over a decade each. Both say the flooding in Lumberton in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is the worst they've been in.
Charlotte's Swift Water Rescue team was staging for a coastal event when they got the call at 2 a.m. Saturday to head to Lumberton. By 5 a.m., they were in the water saving people from flooded homes.
Stephen Pritchard remembers one home in particular: an elderly lady trapped up to her neck; only the light of her cellphone was peeking out into the darkness.
"Making my way through her house, it's completely covered. Dressers, beds everything and this poor lady is standing there. So we finally get the front door open and I had to throw this little woman in the boat." said Pritchard.
"They were just grateful that people were there to help. Everybody there was willing to help us help them," added Brewer.
The Charlotte team lost count of the exact number of rescues they performed, but estimate it to be more than 500.
"We have a job to do and we have to get these people to safety. Then, later on, I think when you stop and then we talk about it and that's when it hits you," said Pritchard.
With most people helped, the CFD saved a number of dogs out of the flood waters. For Brewer, it was something he'll always remember.
"Well, I'm a dog lover. I got two dogs. Some dogs, they were tickled to death that we were there."
The biggest takeaway for each? If a hurricane is heading your way, evacuate as soon as possible.
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