HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As Hurricane Gustav lashed Hancock County Monday, more than a dozen National Guardsmen launched a search and rescue operation at Jordan River Estates.
They prepared to patrol the neighborhood to pick-up people who chose not to evacuate, and ended up trapped in their homes. Suddenly, the military mission took an urgent turn.
"I don't know what shape he's in. I was told he was sick," Scott Bilbo told the troops.
Bilbo is Chief of the Kiln Volunteer Fire Department. He learned that a man, whose house was surrounded by rising water, needed emergency medical help.
"He's ill. He needs AMR. We need somebody to go in and get him for us," Bilbo told the troops.
The men immediately jumped into action. Chief Bilbo called the unexpected military presence -- a life saver.
"Six foot of water. We come here. We called our dispatcher through our fire marshal to get us a boat. We got here. They happened to be here doing rescues and everything, so it worked out perfectly," said Bilbo. "Our boat would have to come two miles away. At least 5 or 10 minutes before they got here."
Within minutes, the National Guardsmen appeared with their patient on board.
"They have made contact, so they'll be heading this way in just a minute," Bilbo told his crew.
Another boat pulled two more people to safety. The rescue was a perfect example of disaster response and teamwork.
"The fire department and military working perfectly together to do rescue. That's what we're here for," said Bilbo.
Another crew spent part of Monday afternoon, helping stranded neighbors at Jordan River Estates. The state Department of Marine Resources' Marine Patrol launched three boats and rescued several people in that neighborhood.