Team Rubicon, a volunteer army made up of mostly former military members who served after 9/11, has dispatched teams into storm ravaged areas following superstorm Sandy, according to NBC News
Among them, Peter Meijer, an Iraq war veteran, took to the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y. to rescue an elderly man and his dog.
While assisting at a Brooklyn shelter, Meijer met a frantic woman who relayed the message that her elderly husband was trapped in the attic with their dog.
“She said the water was up to his knees, then it was up to his waist. Nobody could reach the police. We were 15 minutes away. I peer-pressured my partner, Marvin Avilez, into going out there,” said Meijer, 24, who served in Iraq during 2010 and 2011. “When the road ended, we hopped out. On the way, we found a dude wading in the water, pulling a row boat. He was a former Marine recon guy, going house to house to rescue folks.
"It was during the brunt of the storm. There were eerie moments when the wind was blowing 70 miles per hour, then where it went down to nothing, then back to 70. Water up to my chest. Cars under water. It was like 'End of Days' stuff out there."
After wading through the darkness, Meijer and his partner found the man tucked into a crawlspace that was blocked by debris from the storm surge. After managing to pry the door open, they freed the man and his canine companion.
"We were able to bring him to the hurricane shelter to be with his wife and puppy," Meijer said. "It was cute."
Meijer chalks the situation up to being at “the right place at the right time with the right mission.”
"The whole reason you get involved in an organization like this is to not sit on the sidelines," Meijer said.
Team Rubicon is a non-profit, 4,000-member, all-volunteer army that operates by coordinating with federal and local authorities to aid during natural catastrophes like the April 2011 series of tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that killed over 340 people.
The Team has participated in over 50 missions since the tornadoes, saying it has “a good relationship” with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local authorities.
“We have our little niche and that’s what we stick to,” Matt Pelak, director of strategic partnerships said. “We utilize military-style plans and military-style leaderships to be more effective with less overhead and less bureaucracy, to be fast. Our teams are good at improvising and adapting. That’s what veterans do best.”
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