There’s a quote by Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
I truly think this was personified during Operation Amberjack.
I had the privilege of serving as the Incident Commander during the initial response of this operation. In the beginning things were constantly changing. Our daily tasks included phone calls with emergency managers, fire chiefs, county sheriffs, and medical professionals. We were asked over and over again to do our part to help with incredible and harrowing stories of those trying to deal with the devastation.
I can remember a call I answered while I was driving to the airport to pick up additional Greyshirts for our response. It was 10:30pm and a sheriff’s deputy sounded frantic and concerned, you could tell in his voice that he was truly worried. A Florida highway patrolman has been killed hours earlier in a neighboring county by a falling tree. For this deputy, the highway patrolman was just like another member of his family. He asked if we could help by dispatching a chainsaw team.
When the opportunity came to help the family of one who had spent his last 120-hours doing everything he could for his community; I’m proud to say that the Greyshirts of Team Rubicon stepped into the arena.
The next morning we had every member of our entire operation who knew how to use a saw on the site of the highway patrolman’s family; we received a police escort to and from the worksite.
Huge trees laid on top of a decimated home; and it was our opportunity, and our responsibility, to get them off the house. Greyshirts worked and cleared the area around the whole house, dropped dangerous trees, and gained access to the home with help of our heavy equipment.
We made it TR clean.
Throughout all of this, the sheriff’s deputy continued to assist us every day. He arranged meetings with officials, helped clear roadblocks (both physical and metaphorical), and assured us that no matter what, he’d do everything he could for Team Rubicon to help the citizens of his county.
I’m proud of the work we’ve continued to do in service of those who helped all in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Specifically, the first responders dedicated to the Florida Panhandle. It’s an honor and a pleasure to have such an opportunity to serve those who serve us; to look for the helpers, find them; and help them on what very well may be their worst day.