Even Naples firefighters needed rescuing from Hurricane Ian’s flooding
Hurricane Ian brought record high storm surge to Naples and Engine Company One, forcing the rescuers to rescue their own equipment.
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NAPLES, Fla. – The Naples Fire-Rescue Department led several people out of high water on Facebook midday Wednesday, as the fourth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. approached Naples, Florida.
They went live on the social media site with a final rescue of the day – their own.
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"Now we have a truck issue here, and the guys are trying to push the truck out of the bay," said the crew member hosting the Facebook live.
From the pictures, though, it was tough to tell if she meant the garage bay or nearby Naples Bay.
Hurricane Ian delivered record storm surge to southwest Florida. The now tropical storm is forecast to make a third landfall in the Southeast later this week.
The Naples tide monitor stopped working at over 6 feet, more than two feet higher than the previous record set by Hurricane Irma’s surge.
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As water rushed into the low-lying beach community of Naples, Engine Company One of Naples Fire Rescue was prepared with water repellant coats and boots. But, the Gulf of Mexico started to seep under the garage bay doors.
The video is about 12 minutes long but shows exactly how high the water got and the firefighters' determination to work through it.
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At some point, the water was too high to wear boots and firefighters and paramedics shed their shoes and socks and rolled up their pants. Water lapped against the fire engines and ambulances. And the water kept coming.
The chief made the call, and firemen started pushing an engine out of the building. It was already bumper-deep.
"It seemed like the truck was going to catch on fire. It started smoking," the chief told the firefighter who was streaming the scene. "And we didn’t want the station to burn down."
Crews trained in high-water rescue pulled face masks, extinguishers and rescue equipment out of the truck to try to salvage something. A box of medical supplies floated past at chest level. Winds churned waves and sea spray.
"I am on tippy-toes here," the narrator turned the phone around to show herself nearly swallowed by the water. "The water is up to 4 feet at least."
"We are all OK," she kept saying while her phone showed the surge up to the seat level of a ladder truck.
The camera panned over to show several firefighters crowded on the second-floor landing to escape the flood.
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"We are at high tide now," the narrator sounded relieved and hopeful that the water would retreat soon. "But we’ve lost several vehicles now."
The footage shows water as high against Naples City Hall across the parking lot. Engine Company One is at least 10 blocks from the beach and four blocks from the end of an inlet called Naples Bay.