TRAINING, EXPERIENCE

Help LDWF Agents Rise Above Floods

story by Adam Einck, LDWF Public Information

Flooding is as much a part of the Bayou State as hunting, fishing and crawfish boils. But no group has more expertise and experience dealing with rising waters that put citizens in harm’s way than the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division.

LDWF enforcement agents have led numerous search and rescue missions during flooding caused by major storms, hurricanes, and historic rainfall events, such as the statewide flooding that took place in March and August of last year.

An agent for more than eight years, Sgt. Nicholas Guillory has taken part in his fair share of search and rescue missions since graduating the LDWF enforcement academy in 2008. His efforts are particularly noteworthy, especially a rescue in which he aided eight people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in September of 2015.

“Immediately upon graduating I was put on search and rescue missions in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes for back-to-back hurricanes Gustav and Ike,” said Guillory. “In March of 2012, Lafayette Parish experienced up to four feet of (flood) water during an overnight storm. I assisted the local agents in rescuing numerous people who were stranded in their homes. Then in August, only a few months later, Hurricane Isaac hit and I helped conduct search and rescue missions in LaPlace.”

With his extensive training and experience in search and rescue, Guillory was well prepared to respond to the incidents that occurred on Sept. 6, 2015, in Vermilion Parish.

Guillory received a call from dispatch around 1 p.m. about a vessel taking on water in the Gulf of Mexico near Pecan Island. A storm had kicked up in the Gulf producing high seas and wind.

“It was raining so hard that I could barely see anything, but I decided to launch my vessel anyway,’’ Guillory said. “As I traveled toward the Gulf of Mexico, I couldn’t even see the bow of my own vessel because the rainfall was so heavy.”

Guillory made his way to the scene by 2 p.m. and spotted an individual in mud up to his waist. Guillory pulled the man out of the mud and into his 19-foot patrol boat. He then noticed two other individuals in a nearby vessel that was taking on water and was also able to pull them into his patrol boat. Guillory brought in all three men and safely towed the vessel to the calmer Rollover Canal by 3 p.m.

But the three men told Guillory that they were not the original distress call. Guillory then re-entered the Gulf and traveled about a mile west where he found two more vessels in trouble. One of the vessels was beached; the other was completely under water.

Guillory was able to grab the two individuals from the sunken vessel and put them in his boat. The three people from the beached vessel had taken refuge on land.

Guillory hooked his patrol boat to the beached vessel and pulled it back into the water. The boat started, and two of the people on land boarded their vessel. Guillory then towed the sunken vessel to a position to pump enough water out so that it could float and be towed to inside waters. The last person on shore got in Guillory’s patrol boat.

In total, Guillory rescued eight people, recovered three vessels, and safely returned everyone to the Rollover Landing boat launch by 5 p.m.

The Louisiana Emergency Preparation Association presented Guillory with the Louisiana VALOR Award “For Outstanding Courage and Heroism in Emergency Preparedness” on May 4, 2016, for his Gulf rescue.

“Sgt. Guillory did a phenomenal job of rescuing eight people without injury and recovering three vessels in very rough conditions,” said LDWF Enforcement Chief Col. Joey Broussard. “He deserves any awards he receives for his effort as this could have had a very different outcome if not for the skill, bravery and determination he showed in this successful search and rescue mission.”

Guillory was also a part of LDWF enforcement agents’ statewide response efforts during the flooding that occurred across Louisiana in March and August. Louisiana was inundated with heavy rainfall, flash flooding, river flooding and damaging winds from a stubborn storm systems that moved little during the March and August floods in both northern and southern Louisiana.

Guillory was deployed during both flooding events to help rescue people trapped by the floods. He and his fellow agents rescued a total of 3,971 people and 760 pets from flooded areas statewide. LDWF agents also assisted parishes with evacuating hospitals and neighborhoods as well as enforcing lake closures and no wake zones caused by the floodwaters in addition to their other duties.

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