DART team members assess the flood damage outside |
a home on Jackson Bluff Road in Conway, S.C, where the
roadway is still partially flooded weeks after the storm.
Doug Bainton and the other members of the New York City Fire Department’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) have been getting it done as Red Cross partners for 25 years. Currently, 13 active duty and retired FDNY members are in South Carolina, where they’ve been providing relief and comfort to people after this month’s historic flooding since they arrived on October 12.
“This is kind of what we do,” Bainton says. “We help people for a living. This is just another way of doing it.”
This unique partnership began during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, when the Red Cross made a request for Spanish-speaking volunteers. Some FDNY members were able to help, and a year and a half later, they formed a response team made up entirely of firemen. Over the past 25 years, Bainton says the DART team has helped the Red Cross respond to disasters in every state in the union.
“It’s a way to give back,” Bainton said. “9/11 was obviously a big deal for us, something that will never go away. Half the world has already forgotten what happened here in South Carolina. We understand what that’s like.”
DART team members leave Red Cross relief supplies |
outside a home in the Lee’s Landing neighborhood of
Conway, S.C., where yards remain underwater weeks
after flood waters reached their highest points.
“We’re often the first agencies to bring help to these people. That’s important,” Bainton said of the DART team and the Red Cross. “We get a lot of hugs. Grown men will sometimes start crying, and then you start crying. All they need is that minute, and then they’re fine. And they’re so grateful someone is helping them. That’s why we come back.”