TN National Guard elite team deployed for first time in flood search and rescue

Local News

HUMPHREYS CO., Tenn. (WKRN) — Floodwaters raged wreaking havoc and causing mass devastation in Humphreys County, but when the storm finally began to move out, an elite team from the Tennessee National Guard moved in on with its first official mission.

Coincidentally, News 2’s Neil Orne recently flew with the team during its training for this exact scenario.

The team is called the Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team or HART.

Michael Thornhill, HART pilot, described what he witnessed, “There was fires burning with gas lines ruptured. It was smoky. Just devastation everywhere. There’s a camper floating down sideways in a river. The amount of debris that was in the water was incredible.”

The HART team went car to car searching for anyone trapped. Thornhill recalled one rescue in particular, “We were basically just flying around seeing if we could find someone that needed help. And I don’t know how our rescue tech saw that lady, but he saw her, and we just went to work, recovered her, and just kept looking for more people that needed help.”

Patrick Sheehan, director of Tennessee Emergency Management Agency or TEMA, said its a team they are thankful to have in its life saving tool chest, “”We can never be prepared enough when we don’t know when and where these things will happen and as quickly as it unfolded. The response is a model for timeliness and coordination and speed.”

PHOTOS: Historic rainfall leads to catastrophic flooding in Humphreys County, TN

Sheehan added they will continue to look for all who remain missing until they are found.

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