Flash Floods Bring Out the Best in Austin Firefighters

“The measure of a society can be how well its people treat its animals.” ~Mohandas Gandhi.

For Austin, Texas that measurement is very high at the moment despite the flash floods that swept across the state Thursday. Amidst the devastation, the dedication of firefighters was exemplified when they took the time to pull a dog out of the floodwaters and to safety Thursday morning while rescuing people who were trapped by the rising waters.

The Austin Fire Department posted a photo of the rescue on its Facebook page. Michael Cooper and Matt Harvey where captured by department photographer Preston Colber in their heroic effort as they traveled door to door in the city’s Pleasant Valley Road area rescuing residents from their flooded homes.

Cooper and Harvey were working a 24-hour shift and were near the swollen Onion Creek, when they spotted the dog stranded in about 12 feet of water. “The dog wasn’t with a family,” said Battalion Chief Thayer Smith. “It was out swimming in the water and as the crews were rescuing people they rescued that dog.”

The dog was taken to temporary operations set up at flooding locations by the local humane society to join other pets that have been separated from their owners. According to Smith, unclaimed pets are then taken to the local animal shelter until they can be picked up by their owners. “Dealing with pets is nothing new for us,” Smith said. “It’s just something we do. Austin is a very dog-friendly city. We know that pets are important to our community so, in turn, they’re important to us.”

According to officials, over 100 people had to be rescued from their homes in the flood waters the dog found himself caught up in. Entire neighborhoods in Austin were inundated with water forcing people to cling to trees and homeowners to their roofs before being rescued.

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