Local crew returns home from Panhandle

Local crew returns home from Panhandle
Martin County Fire Rescue returns home from Panhandle

It was ten days ago that Martin County Fire and Rescue Captain Chris Hester got a call he couldn't turn down.

"I jumped at the opportunity," he said.

For 12 years Capt. Hester has worked at the fire department.

"It's kinda something I really enjoy," he said.

But that call wouldn't prepare him for what he was about to see.

"I've been through some hurricanes here but not quite ready for what we saw in Mexico Beach," Hester recalled.

It wasn't long before a three-day rescue trip turned into a 10-day trip.

"Water tower was knocked over it was just concrete slabs for the most part all along the beach," he said. "A few houses made it through but a lot of people lost everything."

Together Hester and his partner Mike Lutz along with the rest of Strike Team 502 helped rescue dozens of people who stayed in their homes.

"We would go check on them take them to the hospital whatever they needed," he said.

All the while anticipating the moment they would get to reunite with their loved ones.

"Seeing these guys definitely made you want to go a little bit quicker to get here," Lutz said.

“I have a new respect for the capability of that storm you know the storm surge and the winds was unbelievable really,” Hester said.