Firefighters, rescue crews arrive back in Charlotte after Florence

- Charlotte fire crews battled flood waters for the past two weeks, helping make water rescues and provide aid and assistance to the areas hardest hit by Florence.

The first responders arriving back in Charlotte this week say the damage they saw from Florence was some of the worst they've ever seen in their careers as firefighters.

"The best way I can describe it is total devastation," said Firefighter Joe McBryde from Rescue 3.  "I've never seen damage like that in my life."

"It's hard to imagine the amount of water that was actually there," added Rescue 3 Chief Joel Cherry.

The firefighters saw the damage done by Florence up close and personal. They say it's unlike anything they've seen before.

"This has been about the worst I can think of that deals with floods or waters," said McBryde. "This was just total devastation."

"That's where we were two years ago during Matthew," said Cherry. "And the devastation was much worse than it was then."

In fact, according to the first responders, the water was on average about three feet deeper than it was when Matthew hit.

"You go through these neighborhoods in boats where cars usually travel and you realize you're in a neighborhood," said McBryde. "And houses are around and you're floating down a street 10-12 feet deep sometimes."

The Charlotte Fire Department conducted swift water rescues, search and rescues and helped with incident management.

"We had a total of 21 dogs at one time in one boat getting those people out as well as their animals," McBryde said.

Deployments lasted anywhere from one to three weeks and what these heroes saw-- they won't forget.

"We were anxious to get out there and we would stay out all day and all night if we had to," McBryde said.  "We would work until exhaustion. That's what we do and that's what we went down to do and that's what we did."

Firefighters sustained only minor injuries during their rescue.

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