GREENSBORO, NC -- Rushing flood waters from Hurricane Matthew in eastern North Carolina have accounted for 24 deaths statewide at the time of this report.
But the death toll could have been a lot higher if it weren't for the brave rescue teams who risk their lives to save others.
For instance, the Greensboro Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team sent two groups of rescue workers to some of the hardest hit places in the state.
One group of 14 rescue workers are still in Sampson County at the time of this report, helping flood victims.
The other group just got back to the Triad on Thursday.
"We've been bouncing back and forth between a couple of locations. We've had some unusual circumstances where we are trying to get to one another. "
Michael Stichter, a firefighter with the Swift Water Rescue Team says they saved dozens of lives during their week long mission in eastern NC.
They helped people who were at the lowest points in their whole lives.
But if you ask the team, they'll tell you the people they rescued helped them just as much.
"It's nice to help other people,” said Stichter. “It's people helping people."
Stichter says his team rescued dozens of people in Pender, Greenville, and Sampson Counties.
"I think a lot of it is staying focused on the task at hand,” said Stichter. “Trying to concentrate on the job that we have to do to maintain our own safety and maintain our ability to do the job."
Sometimes the job calls for rescuing people stranded in shoulder high water.
But sometimes, Stichter says their job is to just be an open ear and a shoulder to cry on for the storm victims.
“Whenever the people that have been experiencing those difficult events are able to share their story, I think it's therapeutic for them,” said Stichter. “Just having a chance to vocalize that helps everybody to know that we can be steady and that there are hands out there to help and things are going to be OK.”
Now back on dry land, the team is cleaning up its gear -- getting organized in case they get called back to respond again.
"That feels good when we have people say thank you for the work we've done and we feel like we represented our area well,” said Stichter. “That gives us a lot of pride right there."
At the time of this report, there is no word on when the rest of GFD’s Swift Water Rescue Team will come home.
It depends on how long they're needed.
Meanwhile, the team that just got home Thursday spent all day Friday training to respond to a building collapse emergency situation.
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