GREENSBORO, NC – Damage, devastation and a dire need for help. Families lost their homes, cars and don’t have much to call their own after Hurricane Matthew.
At least 20 people died in North Carolina because of the major storm and rising flood water remain a danger to everyone caught in the destruction.
Over 40 Swift Water Rescue Teams continue to work along the eastern part of the state. Bryan Wells, a captain with the Greensboro Fire Department is part of one of those teams. On Thursday, Wells and 15 others head to Sampson County, to take over for a team working around the clock since Matthew departed the state.
As Wells packed his bags, checked his equipment, one main question popped out.
How do you prepare to meet people on what could very well be the worst day of their lives?
"As far as mentally preparing to go down there, there's no way of knowing,” Wells said, as he looked towards the ground. "It's pretty tough because you don't know what to expect. It's more of a dealing with it after the fact.”
Sampson County is one of many destroyed by floods. Wells deployed before as part of a rescue team but expects this assignment to be an eye-opening experience.
"I haven't seen the type of destruction that they're talking about here. Just the widespread flooding throughout the eastern part of the county,” Wells explained.
Emergency responders work countless hours pulling women, men, children, animals from several feet of water. They leave their families and safety behind as they try to save others.
As he was preparing to leave, Engineer Ben Wright's wife and three kids drove up to the District 5 fire station. The family wanted to say good bye before Ben leaves.
“They were pretty upset. He cried in the car on the way here,” said Ben’s wife Jessica, as she pointed to her oldest son.
Wells added, "You may or may not have time to talk for several days but when you do have that short amount of time to talk to families, it brings that home."
Wells said they run towards havoc but when the work is done- they're forced to leave behind everyone and try to return to a somewhat normal life.
"It's just the realization of coming back home and knowing how lucky you are and feeling bad and praying for those people down there cause they have a tremendous road ahead of them," Wells said.
The team expects to work in the eastern part of the state for at least a week.