'She’ll have a piece of my heart forever: Hero firefighter rescues girl from flooded home amid Hurricane Ian

'She’ll have a piece of my heart forever: Hero firefighter rescues girl from flooded home amid Hurricane Ian
Hardus Oberholzer held the girl close as he waded through the water (St Augustine Fire Department/Facebook)

ST AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA: A Florida firefighter was praised for saving a young girl from her flooded home on Thursday, September 29, amid Hurricane Ian. Hardus Oberholzer participated in one of the department's 26 rescue missions in St Augustine along with other first responders. Oberholzer had to wade into waist-deep water during the city's worst storm surge in an effort to save the child from her house. Oberholzer held the girl close as he waded through the water, and a colleague was able to quickly take a picture of it.

ADVERTISEMENT

"She’ll have a little piece of my heart forever. It’s something in their eyes. When they truly are at their worst, we show up and have to be at our best every time. Something I’ll remember for the rest of my life and I hope they do, too,' Fox News quoted Oberholzer as saying. The girl Oberholzer saved is the same age as his own son, and the father-of-two says he will always remember her face. Prior to the water levels rising, the girl's family had believed they would be safe if they stayed put, but she quickly called for assistance, according to Oberholzer. As the tide rose and water entered homes and driveways, the number of emergency calls that were received increased dramatically. Oberholzer also remembered having to navigate through six feet of water while conducting the rescue.

ADVERTISEMENT

RELATED ARTICLES 

Hurricane Ian likely killed hundreds after blasting Florida as winds hit 150mph with intense storm surge

Hurricane Ian: Lee County officials under fire for delaying evacuation orders as death toll rises to 77

ADVERTISEMENT

Oberholzer claimed he didn't have a precise count but was a part of at least 10 to 15 rescue efforts. In a Facebook post, St Augustine Fire Chief Carlos Aviles recognized the work of the department and Oberholzer, writing, "This week that new mission statement was tested to the extreme, and I could not be more proud of how our firefighters performed. While these two images perfectly embody the essence of our mission, I have received dozens of first-hand accounts of how helpful and present our firefighters have been."

ADVERTISEMENT



 

Aviles expressed his pride in their work and praised the families of the first responders for taking care of their loved ones. "Thank you to all our residents and businesses for your continued support," Aviles remarked. Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm and continues to weaken as it heads over Virginia on Sunday, October 2. Due to record floods, deputies in several Florida counties are forced to use boats to rescue residents. Since the hurricane first made landfall, almost 75% of the state's energy consumers have had their power restored. At least 47 deaths have been confirmed in Florida, and four deaths have been confirmed in North Carolina, bringing the total number of fatalities in the United States to above 50.

ADVERTISEMENT

Share this article: 'She’ll have a piece of my heart forever: Hero firefighter rescues girl from flooded home amid Hurricane Ian