Amarillo PD Hurricane Harvey relief crew returns from TX coast

Nearly a dozen Amarillo Police Department officers helped with disaster relief on the Texas coast after Hurricane Harvey hit. (Photo courtesy: Amarillo Police Department)

Several Amarillo Police Department officers who were sent to Port Arthur are back home after spending more than a week helping hurricane Harvey victims.

Two of the officers work on APD's dive team.

"As we were driving into Port Arthur, we drove through approximately 2.5-3 feet of water and on each side of the road, homes were flooded up to their windows," said APD Sgt. Kevin Korinek. "At this point the storm was already leaving the area and things were starting to more or less be real surreal, real quiet and people at that point were already evacuated from that area."

Korinek and Corporal Robert West are both members of APD's dive team who used their skills and specialized equipment to help folks get out of flooded areas.

"Primarily, we went down there as a boat team to assist in any way we could from one extreme of someone being stuck in swift waters, being actively swept away down a flooded creek or river, for us to either jump in and swim to them or utilize our boat and bring them to the shore. Or to the other extreme of just using our boat as a mode of transportation to help people get from their homes that are now flooded to a shelter where they can get food and clean clothes," said Korinek.

"One of our tasks that we had was going to send up six or seven miles down flooded streets to get to the neighborhood that we were supposed to assist with, however, while going through that route, we hit a bridge, where there's trees and fence lines and things like that wouldn't allow us to pass through," said Korinek.

Despite those minor complications, the relief crew said they experienced people helping people. They said it was proof that the Panhandle Spirit is state wide.

"It was really amazing to see the amount of people that were showing up from all over the place to help and the different types of services they were willing to do. There's even locals that their residence was in Port Arthur. They just went through a storm and their house may or may not have been flooded, but they were showing up and cooking for first responders and cooking and providing freshly cooked meals for anyone and everyone who needed a hot meal at that time and that was amazing to see. It wasn't just a first responder operation, it took an entire nation to help the communities down there."

Now that the storm is over, the Texas coast residents impacted most by Hurricane Harvey can start rebuilding. They are still in need of food water and just a simple compassionate helping hand.

Korinek tells ABC 7 News currently works full-time in training and personnel and part-time on the Amarillo Police Department dive team.

He said he has been on the dive team for about four years and has helped recover drowning victims, as well as, weapons and evidence from area lakes.

Korinek said he has been in law enforcement for nearly nine years.

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