Rescue Volunteer Ventures Coast to Coast with Cajun Navy

This CrowdRelief Disaster Helpers Story was created for helper Brian Antisdel. 02/26/2019 10:18 AM
Volunteer: Brian Antisdel
Zello Handle: IT3 Michigan
From: Dowagiac, Michigan
Disasters worked: Hurricanes Hugo, Harvey, Florence and Michael; and California Wildfires

Before joining Cajun Navy, I had already been assisting with relief missions in my own community. They would send me wherever people were in need. Then in 2018, I was heading to North Carolina to help Hurricane Florence survivors when Greg Alexander put us on Zello. We teamed up with Cajun Navy Foundation, and the rest is history.

During these disasters, I helped with relief and rescue. I also set up command centers and closed tickets entered on CrowdRelief. I have had the privilege of rescuing both people and animals, and even a child's goldfish on one occasion. I have seen a woman with her three muddy children in tears because I made it to them when they thought no one would.

In North Carolina, my team rescued people stranded in the flood zone via hovercraft. We were able to save two horses, and we brought in a helicopter to feed the community of Burgaw. Some of the residents were stuck in their homes five miles off the river, so we floated a boat down the street to do welfare checks. Our team also rescued families stranded inside their homes in knee-high water in Lumberton, NC. We closed well over 100 tickets in North Carolina, including welfare checks, bringing in supplies and helping however we could.

We also searched more than 170 properties to find cadavers in areas destroyed by the California wildfires. I remember searching for six hours without finding any sign of life. Finally, after about the 100th property, I discovered a live chicken and started to cry because I had finally found life in such an apocalyptic setting. I fed the chicken and kept going. I found charred remains with Sir Winston and Sir Otis, my canine companions, throughout the city of Paradise, CA. I met up with a family in the same city who had lost everything, and they happened to be from my hometown of Dowagiac, Michigan. As I set out to bring them goods, all they asked for was Faygo pop.

My favorite moment is when Jerry and I were able to save a man that was running out of oxygen. There was nothing left standing in the area, and we had to improvise by creating a self-charging battery bank for his oxygen tank and unit. I’ll never forget the sense of relief from the pressure we had all been experiencing. Jerry and I were thankful to be there for the man in such a time of need. Once his family members were able to breathe a sigh of relief, happy tears started to flow.

I volunteer for several reasons. There are so many others who can't or won't. If we could all experience what volunteering is all about - the impact it has on a person in distress as well as on the one lending a hand, I believe everyone would dig in. I do it because of the smiles I get, the relief we give the people in distress and the closure we can bring to troubling circumstances. I also do it because I remember being homeless at the age of 14 and knowing what it's like to go without. The Lord picked me up then, so why shouldn't I step up and help His people?

Brian Antisdel

California Camp Fire Disaster Helper
Disaster
California Camp Fire

This person's information has been vetted and approved by the Cajun Navy Foundation.