Before the 40 TPD officers and 15 Tampa firefighters left early Saturday morning, they were told, "You guys are gonna be exposed to stuff that nobody’s ever seen before but you guys."
Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Barbara Tripp, Tampa Police Department Chief Mary O’Connor, and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor were there to see them off.
"These resources were actually available and ready to use for Tampa," Chief Tripp said.
Mayor Jane Castor and Police Chief Mary O'Connor address officers and firefighters before they go to North Port
Rafts, chainsaws and Humvees (high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle) lined North Port’s police department parking lot as officers mapped out where rescues still needed to be made.
The National Guard was also deployed and welcomed the help.
FOX 13’s Regina Gonzalez boarded a vehicle with the words ‘Hurricane response vehicle’ on the side, and accompanied them on a water rescue mission.
Linda Maggi was in good spirits after police pulled her to safety from her best friend’s North Port property, which sat on a block where high floodwaters parted either side of the street.
"What an experience, after 39 years I’ve never lived through a hurricane like this," Linda Maggi said. "I have physical disabilities and I thought I’d never get up the steps, so I had these good-looking guys help me up and that’s the most real life I’ve had in 75 years."
Homes in North Port were surrounded by water after Hurricane Ian
She came to ride out Hurricane Ian with people she loved after evacuating her home in Port Charlotte. But Ian’s wrath forced water from the Myakkahachi creek into entire communities, including theirs.
Despite being stuck for four days without power, and nearly running out food and supplies, she was grateful for their company.
Flooding trapped people in their North Port homes Saturday after Hurricane Ian
"I’m glad I’m here with my friends because down there, I’m alone," she said.
The scene at nearby shelters showed Maggi and her friends were not alone. Dozens of people arrived in water rescue vehicles.
Tampa police help North Port police transport water to people trapped by flooding
Until they can safely get out, many can be seen taking in the fresh air on what is like their own little islands. They say they’re lucky to still have properties to wait on, unlike their neighbors farther south.
Meanwhile, Officers like Sebastian Meyer were also in disbelief at what they saw.
Entire neighborhoods were inundated by floodwaters after Hurricane Ian
"It’s devastating when you look at all these streets, they’re all flooded, most of the houses are damaged. These elderly people were hunkered down for three days. North Port is a small department. They can’t respond to everything," Officer Meyer said.
North Port officers said they’re grateful for the help from their brothers and sisters to the north, as they work to serve their own community while also dealing with their own personal losses.
"I’ve got damage, and that needs to wait," North Port PD’s spokesperson, Josh Taylor said. "We have a job to do here and you just do it and get to that stuff when time comes."
The first team of first responders from Tampa will be there for at least a week. If needed, the city of Tampa will send a second team down.