HPD dive team saves thousands of lives during Harvey flooding
HOUSTON – Over the past week, we've shown you some incredible water rescues across the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey.
The Houston Police Department Dive Team was one such group of rescuers, saving 3,000 lives.
You can see it in their every movement: They're 16 men, one team.
"Every single person that you see in here, I trust and they trust me as well," said one team member.
"They are silent operators who go out and save lives," another team member said.
We saw it firsthand, when they rescued 300 people from one apartment complex.
"We're going through an apartment complex and it looks like white water rapids," said a team member.
For many on the team, this was the moment they recognized Harvey's true power.
"People screaming, people on their roof, people pointing to bodies," said another team member.
The conditions were dangerous. But they never hesitated. Even when the call was for one of their own.
HPD Sgt. Steve Perez drowned trying to get to work, and this crew recovered his body.
"It was pretty difficult to see him laying there, in uniform," one officer told us. "You can see yourself in that uniform, in that position."
With no time to mourn, they went straight back to saving lives.
"We rescued a 100-year-old woman, a 94-year-old World War II veteran, a 90-year-old woman on oxygen," said one officer.
They saved an estimated 3,000 people in four days.
"(We were) just seeing panic in people's faces, and just letting them know that we're here and help's on the way," said a team member.
When the rescues turned to recoveries, the team still they didn't stop. Risking their lives to dive through dark waters for those who didn't make it out.
"That's important because they matter," one team member said. "There's times when I'm down by the body and I'll just say a quick prayer. Because that's all I can do."
How do you say thank you? Where do you even start?
"Somebody's got to go down there and do the job," one officer said.
But they didn't do it alone.
"All of a sudden we started seeing bass boats, and jon boats and pontoon boats," a team member said.
The people of Houston, of Texas and of the United States rallied around them.
"It was pretty incredible to see the community come together," said another team member.
So they come out the other side, propellers worn down, new scars on the boats, but stronger than ever.
"From the time we launched until the time we stopped or slowed down, these men never quit," said a team member.
And neither will Houston.
"This is a gritty city," one officer said. "It's a city of fighters."
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