"What you see on TV never equals what it's like in person," said Shelly Jamison, an assistant chief with the Phoenix Fire Department.
Jamison is one of 80 members of Arizona Task Force One, a FEMA rescue team, who left the Valley for Houston area to help with the rescue efforts.
“Some of the things you don't see on television are the empty roadways, the power outages, the desolate feeling that results when something like this strikes a city, especially one as large as Houston,” Jamison told 12 News. “People are devastated and you can see it in their faces."
Jamison sent 12 News a series of pictures and videos showing the team’s rescue efforts in the city of Katy, Texas, which is west of Houston.
Team members have been deploying rescue boats to some of the area's most devastated neighborhoods.
Jamison talked about what it’s like on the ground.
“So what you're seeing is basically a neighborhood underwater,” she said. “What would normally be streets looks like a river.”
“Some people tried to stay,” Jamison told 12 News. “I think they thought the water would recede quickly and they would stay in homes and protect it but we're still pulling members of this neighborhood out.”
From people trapped in their homes to beloved family pets, rescuers from all over the country have been risking their own lives to saves those who are in desperate need.
“I think oftentimes we want to hope for the best that things won't be as bad as the weather forecasters are predicting but in this case, it was every bit as bad and then some,” Jamison said.
Arizona Task Force One members will likely be deployed to the flood zone for the next two weeks.
“My understanding is that more rain is on the way and there's no place to put it other than on the ground,” said Jamison.
But despite the overwhelming amount of destruction she’s seen since arriving, Jamison says what's amazed her the most is how tragedy can bring out the best in people.
“While it's devastating and almost has a 'zombie nation' effect,” she said, “the secondary aspect of that is how humans come together very well and strongly to help each other and the first responders.”
FEMA rescue teams like Arizona Task Force One are positioned throughout the United States.
Team members deploy to everything from natural disasters to terrorist attacks like Sept. 11.
The team from Phoenix is mostly made up of local firefighters but also has a handful of civilians who also volunteer with the group.
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